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Water Balance Objectives: 1) Use a web-based environmental model to compare and contrast diferent scenarios oF water availability 2) Compare and contrast how monthly water availability changes For diferent latitudes, temperatures, and precipitation 3) Observe and discuss how temperature changes afect available water 4) Discuss how the water balance oF particular locations afects prospects For sustainable agriculture or sustainable urbanism 1.0 Water balance Water is among the most basic needs oF all liFe. Humans oF course need water to survive, people cannot live more than a Few days without some Form oF water. We also need water to produce our Food – crops cannot grow without water, and livestock, like people, need water to drink. We also need water to grow the Food that livestock eat, and to process Foods and waste (both human and animal waste). Water is also needed in many ecological Functions and plays a key role in biogeochemical cycles, providing numerous environmental services. Although water is needed equally be people around the world For the same reasons, it is not equally available in all places. Some people have an abundance oF water while others Face water scarcity year-round. The reasons For diferences in “water wealth” are both natural and anthropogenic; water scarcity, in particular, can be caused by humans in spite oF the availability oF water in the environment. Overuse and pollution oF water can lead to scarcity, as can lack or resources to develop water inFrastructure (e.g., wells, and treatment Facilities). The amount oF water available in the environment oF diferent places is afected by a number oF variables, but Fundamentally it comes down to two things – what comes in, and what goes out. A very simpli±ed water balance equation could look like this” Available water = precipitation – water use When precipitation is greater than water use, there is a water surplus available For storage and recharging groundwater. When water use or demand For water is greater than precipitation there is a water de±cit. Like a bank account balance a water balance is dependent on income to keep From being overdrawn. Income in a water balance comes From precipitation (rain and snow). Withdrawals oF water that bring the balance down are primarily consumption based – plants taking up water, humans and animals drinking water, and oF course human consumption For irrigating crops (our largest use), watering livestock, sanitation, cleaning, and industry. Water that ²ows downstream to the ocean and to groundwater reservoirs are also withdrawals. 1.1 Environmental water budgets Since human use can vary greatly From place to place and From time to time, it is helpFul to understand water availability beFore human use is taken into account, that is to ±gure out how much water is available in a particular place based on environmental water use only and then see what is leFt over For humans to use For drinking and sanitation, agriculture, industry, etc. This is our environmental water budget (note that water balance and water budget are oFten used interchangeably) and it can be calculated over short and long-term periods. ³or planning purposes it is oFten calculated monthly or seasonally. We can calculate a water budget based on three variables: precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, and actual evapotranspiration.
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Precipitation, as mentioned above, is the input and adds water to our budget. Evapotranspiration is the withdrawal of water from our account. Evapotranspiration is a combination of evaporation (water evaporating from soil, streams, lakes), and transpiration , surface water taken up by plants and emitted to the atmosphere as water vapor. The amount of evapotranspiration that can take place varies around the world for diFerent locations. Remember that evaporation is driven by insolation and increasing temperatures – as the temperature of water molecules rises they will begin to evaporate – so that warmer locations, with more insolation will have greater rates of evaporation. Transpiration will also vary from place to place depending on the type and amounts of plants available to transpire water. Potential evapotranspiration is the amount of evapotranspiration that would take place, if there was unlimited water available. In other words, all of the evaporation demand based on temperature and insolation, plus all of the plant transpiration needs, can be met. To go back to our bank account analogy, potential evapotranspiration is equivalent to the amount of money you would spend on a regular basis if the amount of money was unlimited (that would be nice right!?). If there is enough water to meet potential evapotranspiration demand and there is still water left over, there is a surplus. precipitation > potential evapotranspiration = surplus, needs are met and storage increases precipitation = potential evapotranspiration = in balance, no surplus, no de±cit precipitation < potential evapotranspiration = de±cit, actual evapotranspiration will use what precipitation is available When precipitation is not adequate to meet potential evapotranspiration demand, the actual evapotranspiration will be some amount less than the potential. In this case there is unmet demand and the budget has a de±cit. In nature, when potential evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation inputs, plants go dormant or utilize stored water in the soil, groundwater, or plant tissues, drawing on their savings. Humans use a similar tactic, pumping groundwater or using water from storage reservoirs to irrigate plants and keep them growing through the dry season. A drought occurs when water consumption by people and/or the environment exceeds water income, or precipitation. There simply isn’t enough water coming in to meet the demands and the water bank account must draw on savings or storage. In times of drought people and ecosystems may draw on water savings accounts – lakes, reservoirs, and aquifers, but like real savings accounts, these do not last forever and can also run out. Recently droughts have become more frequent in many places, and have been more severe, and long lasting in other locations. In some places around the world droughts have become both more frequent and severe. In the United States the Southwest has been experiencing long-term drought since approximately the year 2000, with potential evapotranspiration consistently exceeding precipitation and water storage has been declining. California’s 2014-2015 winter precipitation was a record low, with snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains only about 5% of normal, worsening an ongoing long-term drought that had already been established years before. The 2013 drought that aFected the Midwest, including Omaha, but also other agricultural states like Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and others was severe, but short-term (though parts of the Great Plains continue to experience ongoing long-term drought conditions). 2.0 Describing and diferentiating types oF drought
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GIS and Environmental Justice Objectives: 1) Explain what GIS is and provide clear examples of how it can be used to better understand human-environment questions and problems 2) Explain what environmental justice is and the key factors in recognizing it 3) Use GIS to visualize and explore geographic data and explain a potential environmental justice problem 4) Use Excel to generate results to support statements about environmental justice 1.0 GIS and environmental justice Geographers use GIS (Geographic Information System) to document, study, and communicate information about a wide array of things we Fnd all around us every day. In this lab we will explore how GIS is used to study questions of environmental justice . GIS are used by businesses (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, UPS, CVS, and on and on), local government agencies (City of Omaha, Omaha Metro, OPPD, Omaha MUD, etc.), federal agencies (US Department of Agriculture, US ±orest Service, US Geological Survey, US ±ish and Wildlife Service, Census Bureau, etc.), and scientists and academics doing social and environmental research. Developing techniques, tools, and expert application of GIS for the groups listed above are specializations within the Feld of Geography. 1.1 What is GIS - Revisted GIS are powerful tools for collecting, storing, organizing, doing statistical analysis, doing spatial analysis, reporting, visualizing, and mapping spatial data . Spatial data are any data that can be associated with speciFc places – locations. ±or instance home prices in a neighborhood – with GIS not only can you make a map of where homes are, but you can do an analysis of how home prices vary with distances from schools, parks, or restaurants. Two commonly used analogies for GIS are the “shoe box” (or recipe box) and the “tool box” analogies. Thinking of GIS as a shoe box indicates the GIS is used as a way to store and organize information. You may know someone who has a collection of recipes on cards (either on paper or in a computer application). In the shoe box analogy the cards are stored and organized systematically in the shoe box. A geographic example of this can be found in your neighborhood. Think of the objects found outside around the place where you live – the streets, the storm drains, the Fre hydrants, the trees, the houses. In the shoe box analogy each item, every street, every storm drain, etc. gets its own card with a description of it, and gets stored in the shoe box (the GIS database). An important distinction for GIS from a simple shoe box is that each card has spatial information – map coordinates so the objects can be placed in geographic relation to each other in 2 or 3 dimensions. The cards are not just put in the shoe box in any order – all of the streets are together in a group of their own called a layer , the Fre hydrants are all together in a Fre hydrant layer, etc. This organization allows us to map any type of feature layer individually or in combination with other layers, and search and analyze the speciFc information found on the individual cards and display it in a map. The tool box analogy is a way of seeing GIS as a set of tools used to work on spatial data. Like a real tool box there are many tools in a GIS and each tool has a speciFc purpose used for di²erent tasks or for di²erent types of data. The tools available in a GIS include tools for visual display – mapping tools – tools for statistical analysis – based measurements related to the objects in the shoe box – tools for spatial analysis – based on the geographic location of objects in the map or relative to each other (distance, size, shape, direction, etc.) – and tools for data conversion, projecting, selecting, copying, and joining data sets together. Having all of these tools together to work with spatial data is a project begun by geographers in the 1960s and continues today.
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1.3 Environmental justice and GIS One application of GIS to a human-environment problem is environmental justice . Environmental justice is concerned with who is aFected disproportionately by poor or hazardous environmental quality. Environmental justice is a concern because over time it has become empirically evident that some socioeconomic groups tend to be located in or near areas of degraded environmental quality or potential environmental hazards, putting them at greater risk for damaged health or economic loss. In a society that uses and degrades the environment creating both goods and waste, someone will bene±t from and someone will pay the costs of this use (harvesting natural resources, consuming water, mining, etc.) and degradation (pollution generated in the process, depletion of resources). A major factor that in²uences environmental justice is the distribution of power in society – social, economic, and political power – the power to make decisions and in²uence one’s own environment and the environment of others. This why groups with less socioeconomic and political power often live or work in poor or hazardous environmental conditions. Typically we see racial minorities, working class, immigrant groups, and women, working and living in poor or hazardous conditions. On the other hand, the racial majority, the wealthy, and the socially and politically connected have better living and working conditions – they have the power – or have ingratiated themselves to power – to protect themselves from poor or hazardous environments. Note that this is true in countries around the world, not just in the United States. The ability of GIS to organize, visualize, and analyze data about where diFerent socioeconomic groups and environmental hazards are located makes it especially useful for studying and communicating problems of environmental justice. While one can analyze the distribution or segregation of minority residents in a city, and count the number of oil re±neries (for example); in a GIS one can combine this information with location to understand if the two things are found in the same place, how often, and if other groups are aFected in the same way. 2.0 Exploring demographic and environmental data with GIS In this lab we will use a GIS of Douglas County to visualize and analyze data from the US Census and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Both the US
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