This Ingenious System Brings Water to the Chinese Desert. Watch video here.

Although not as widely known as the Great Wall, the karez – and its vast maze of underground tunnels – is one of China’s most recognized ancient engineering feats.

The air here has a matte gold colour, a reflection of the rugged, desert landscape. Far on the horizon, the peaks of the Tianshan Mountains shimmer, while in the foreground, China’s Turpan Basin is dotted with chunches, the Uyghur name for the small, square buildings where grapes are dried.

Despite the harsh climate, the Turpan soil is fertile and vineyards flourish throughout the area. More than a dozen different types of grapes are grown here, and the water the grapes need to grow is brought to their vines by an ancient irrigation system called the karez, or ‘well’, in the Uyghur language.

TURPAN, CHINA – AUGUST 1995: Small earth brick houses are used as drying sheds in the “Grape Valley” August, 1995 in Turpan, China. (Photo by Reza/Getty Images)

The Turpan Basin is dotted with chunches, where grapes are dried (Credit: Reza/Getty Images)

Although not as widely known as the Great Wall, the karez is one of China’s most recognized ancient engineering feats. Constructed by the Uyghur people who long ago settled this remote part of northwest China, the system once carried water throughout all of what is now the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

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NASA’s ‘Treasure Map’ of Water Ice on Mars Shows Where Humans Should Land

The annotated area in this animation of the Red Planet is where NASA spacecraft have found near-surface water ice that would be easy for astronauts to dig up.

NASA’s wish to follow the water on Mars just got a helping hand.

Scientists have released a new global map showing water ice that is as little as 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) below the Red Planet’s surface.

With data in hand, the research team located at least one promising landing spot for future astronaut missions: a big zone in the northern hemisphere’s Arcadia Planitia. This area has a lot of water ice close to the surface and is in the ideal location for a human Mars mission, because it is in a temperate, midlatitude region with plenty of sunlight, the research team wrote in a new study describing the findings.

Related: Where’s All the Water on Mars? Scientists (and Future Astronauts) Need to Know

NASA's 'Treasure Map' of Water Ice on Mars Shows Where Humans Should Land

This map shows where the underground water ice is located on Mars. Cool colors represent water ice that is closer to the surface than the areas in warm colors, and black zones indicate areas where a visiting spacecraft would sink into fine dust on the surface. The area outlined in white represents the ideal region to send astronauts for them to dig up water ice. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)
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Massive Blobs of ‘Fire Ice’ Lurks Beneath the Ocean. We Know Almost Nothing About Them.

frozen bubbles of methane lake baikal

Frozen bubbles of methane locked beneath Lake Baikal.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — There’s a giant trove of frozen methane, or “fire ice,” locked beneath our ocean’s surface. If released, it could trigger tsunamis, landslides and release huge amounts of carbon into our already-warming atmosphere. But we have almost no idea how much there is or where to find it.

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Desalination Is enjoying Boom times as Cities Run out of Water

We’re running out of water. Is desalination the answer?

In California alone there are 11 desalination plants, with 10 more proposed. But there are big downsides to making seawater drinkable.

A reverse-osmosis desalination plant.

On a Friday this spring, a group of students from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies drove two hours to visit Swansea, Mass., a community with rolling green hills on the commonwealth’s southern coast, for a surprising reason — to see the town’s newest water treatment facility.

They were greeted by Robert Marquis, who’s been Swansea’s water manager for four decades.

“So you’re standing in the first publicly held desalination facility in the Northeast,” Marquis told the students.

Desalination is the process of making freshwater out of saltwater by removing the salt. People have been doing it on a small scale for centuries. On a big scale, though, desalination of seawater takes a lot of energy and a lot of money. But as water becomes more scarce and more contaminated, some communities feel like they don’t have a choice.

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Jakarta’s Giant Seawall Is Useless if the City Keeps Sinking

Late last week, president Joko Widodo of Indonesia told the AP that he’s fast-tracking a decade-in-the-making plan for a giant seawall around Jakarta, a city that’s sinking as much as 8 inches a year in places—and as seas rise, no less. Models predict that by 2050, a third of the city could be submerged. It’s an urban existential crisis the likes of which the modern world has never seen.

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Latest solar distillation gadget concept claims near-perfect efficiency in purifying water

The new water purification technique involves draping a sheet of carbon-dipped paper in an upside-down “V”

Access to clean water is one of the world’s most pressing problems, but a team of University at Buffalo researchers has come up with a new take on an old technology that uses sunlight to purify water. Led by associate professor of electrical engineering Qiaoqiang Gan, the team has created a device that uses black, carbon-dipped paper to produce fresh water with what is claimed to be near-perfect efficiency.

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Earth is “drinking” more seawater through the Mariana Trench than previously thought

Seismic activity at the Mariana plate is dragging far more water into the Earth’s mantle than previously thought(Credit: Yarr65/Depositphotos)

The Earth’s surface is famously a pretty wet place, but a new study suggests that the mantle is home to much more water than was previously believed. Observations of seismic activity around the Mariana Trench have revealed that subducting tectonic plates are dragging more water deeper into the Earth, which could change our understanding of the global water cycle.
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Fighting a losing battle with the elements

A row of a dozen houses perched on cliffs at Sidmouth in east Devon are losing their yard space to the sea.

Martin McInerney, 82, has lost 20m (65ft) of his garden in the 20 years he has lived there and expects the cliff to be at his back door within 60 years.

The Environment Agency says it is working to get funding for a plan to reduce encroachment by the sea.

Henry Sapiecha

Capetown in South Africa is turning off its taps because of the drought


South Africa’s second largest city is in the midst of a severe drought and if taps are turned off it would make it the first city in the world to run dry.

Henry Sapiecha

Tahoe refutes allegations in reports of water contamination

Tahoe Resources (TSX, NYSE:THO) is denying a media report issued on Thursday that its Shahuindo mine in Peru has contaminated local water supplies.

The story (in Spanish) by Cajabamba Peru, stated that heavy rains caused a leaching pit to overflow and flooded a nearby village.

“The heavy rains that have occurred that in the early hours of today, one of the waste pits of this company overflowed and flooded the village of Liclipampa Bajo, in the province of Cajabamba, leaving crops and houses flooded with highly toxic materials,” states the article, translated from Spanish. “The population is worried because in this pond there would be highly dangerous waste, which would put at risk the lives of the affected inhabitants.”

However according a release by Tahoe issued the next day, a ditch designed to keep rainwater out of the mining area overflowed, but it was upstream of the permitted discharge point. “At no time has the rainwater had any contact with process water or any contamination from industrial activities,” the Vancouver-based gold producer stated. It added that the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Control (OEFA) visited the mine to take water and sediment samples, and found that the leach pond did not overflow.

Tahoe did acknowledge that some communities were impacted by the heavy rains and that it is moving heavy equipment in to clear roads and mud.

The Shahuindo mine is an open-pit heap leach gold mine that started commercial production in 2016. It expects to ramp up to full production of 36,000 tonnes per day in the second half of this year. The mine has proven and probable reserves of 110.3 million tonnes, containing 1.9 million gold ounces, with an average grade of 0.52 grams per tonne.

Henry Sapiecha

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