The Stream, August 20, 2020: Yangtze River Tributaries Rise to Dangerous Levels

The Global Rundown

Flooding continues to affect millions in China. Zimbabwe’s second largest city is waterless. Hundreds of millions of gallons of water are lost in the UK every day. New research makes predictions about future droughts in Europe. Brazil’s largest state fears severe drought will ruin their livelihood.

“We discuss climate change a lot here. It is something that we are very afraid of. After all, what we take as a community… comes from natural resources.” – Manoel da Cunha, manager of the Middle Juruá Extractive Reserve in Caruari municipality. The reserve, a conservation area in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, is experiencing unprecedented drought as the dry season gets underway. De Cunha said that without river transportation many locals risk becoming totally isolated and without fish from the river, many could go hungry. The dry weather also puts the community at risk for major wildfires, which could burn down native trees whose seeds provide jobs to those who collect and sell them. Reuters

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By The Numbers

650,000 The number of people living in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, who are without water. Residents have been restricted to tap water once a week since May after problems at two reservoirs caused storage capacity to decrease to about 26 percent. Now Town Clerk Christopher Dube said they will now only receive brief supplies “to allow for the consumers to fill up their containers” until the situation improves. The cut off comes as the city deals with severe drought, ailing infrastructure and an outbreak of waterborne diseases. Bloomberg

3 billion liters (660 million gallons) The amount of water across England and Wales that is lost to leaks every day. Water firms are increasingly pointing to advances in technology, such as installing sensors to detect leaks, to solve the problem. Although some types of sensors are made to last for years, experts agree that they are a short-term solution. Network Strategy Manager at SES Water Daniel Woodworth said that the problem is pipe infrastructure, which has long been a problem in the UK and needs to be improved. BBC

Science, Studies, and Reports

Researchers at the Helmholz Centre for Environmental Research published a paper this month about “unprecedented” drought in Europe over the last two summers. The study used climate model simulation outputs to determine the risk for future droughts. The authors of the study concluded that without an effective mitigation strategy, droughts could become more common and have adverse effects on vegetation health. Nature

On the Radar

Dangerously high levels in the Yangtze River and several of its tributaries has prompted an unprecedented emergency response alert and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes. According to Vice-Minister at the Ministry of Emergency Management Zhou Xuewen, by last week, 63 million people had been affected by the floods, 12.7 percent higher than the average over the past 5 years. Reuters

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