Extreme Heat Could Also Mean Power and Water Shortages

There are signs everywhere in the West of America that indicate a dry future and present. It appears that the earth is experiencing extreme drought for the second consecutive summer, with wildfires raging across the Pacific Northwest and California's shrinking reservoirs. According to the US Drought Monitor (a weekly report by hydrology experts at US Department of Agriculture and National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln), 75.6 million people live in drought conditions as of July 22. According to the report, 25% of the US is in extreme or exceptional drought. Although there were some rains earlier in July in parts of the desert Southwest, experts warn that the situation will worsen in the months ahead. They also advise that cities and farms in the region prepare for possible water and electricity shortages. According to Dan McEvoy (assistant professor of climatology, Desert Research Institute, Nevada), who studies the causes of droughts in the West, the current drought coverage is vast. Nearly all states, or every state in western America, have some degree of drought. California is particularly bad. Jay Lund, a professor at UC Davis of civil engineering, was on vacation and sailing his 36-foot boat through a section in the San Francisco Bay Delta. He spoke to WIRED while on vacation. The delta covers 1,100 miles and is home for 750 species. It is located at the confluence between the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Due to the lack of rain this year and the lower snowpack in Sierra Nevada, the rivers aren't flowing fast enough to keep saltwater flowing upstream into the delta. Lund stated that this is an extreme drought while waiting for a breeze. It follows the 1976 and 1924 droughts in California. In June, state officials built a $10 million emergency project to stop the ocean saltwater from rushing into the delta. They want to preserve its freshwater supply, which is diverted to pumps that pipe water to large numbers of Californians from San Jose to Los Angeles and irrigation water to farmers in the fertile Central Valley. California has begun to limit groundwater withdrawals by the state farmers. They account for $50 billion or 3 percent of the state's GDP. However, Governor Gavin Newsom has not required state residents to reduce their water usage, but rather encouraged them. There are still signs that there is growing concern about the state's water crisis. Lund, who has created large-scale models for the state's water supply, predicts that August will be warmer and drier than usual. He also expects that there will be more demand on the electric grid of the state and less water. This is a hot drought. The higher temperatures will cause air conditioning loads to rise, especially in the evening when solar energy has ceased. This is the main threat. He says that California's surface water will not be sufficient to power hydropower dams. Lund states that because of less rainfall, I think we will have half or less hydropower than usual.

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