The Stream, August 17: U.S. Unveils Supercomputer Flood Forecasting

The Global Rundown

A new tool will allow federal forecasters to track hourly the water conditions in rivers and streams across the United States. In the past year, the U.S. has experienced eight floods of a magnitude that statistically occurs only once every 500 years. Federal water managers also predicted this week that low water levels in Lake Mead will trigger a shortage declaration in 2018, and the Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit against the U.S. EPA over water contamination from the Gold King Mine spill. A town in Alaska voted on a measure to relocate due to rising seas. In Australia, scientists relocated two dozen endangered tortoises because their natural habitat is becoming too dry.

“One of the Navajo people’s most important sources of water for life and livelihood was poisoned with some of the worst contaminants known to man, including lead and arsenic.” –Excerpt from a lawsuit the Navajo Nation filed Tuesday against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its contractor for spilling toxic mine waste that contaminated the San Juan River. The spill from Colorado’s abandoned Gold King Mine occurred a year ago, but the agency’s response has been inadequate, according to the complaint. (Reuters)

By The Numbers

8 floods Number considered to be a once-in-500-years event that have occurred in the United States over the past year. A flood disaster in Louisiana, where nearly 0.6 meters of rain fell over the weekend, is the latest to join the list. Guardian

2018 Year the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts there will be a water shortage in Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir. If a shortage is declared, it would cut water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada by 11.4 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively. Associated Press

24 western swamp tortoises Number that will be relocated from their native range near Perth to two sites farther from the city. Drier weather and declining groundwater levels mean the tortoises, which are endangered, can no longer survive in the city’s wetlands. Guardian

Science, Studies, And Reports

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration unveiled a new tool Tuesday that will allow it to give hourly forecasts for river conditions in 2.7 million locations across the United States. The agency called its innovation the “biggest improvement in flood forecasting the country has ever seen.” NOAA

On The Radar

Citizens of Shishmaref, a small coastal town in Alaska, voted Tuesday on a measure to relocate their community in response to rising sea levels. The island the town is built on has lost more than 760 meters of land to erosion over the past three decades, according to residents. Guardian