Tag Archives: underground

Climate Change, Sierra Nevadas’ Snowmelt, & the Drought

Lake Sierra Nevada Mnts.

In alpine areas such as the Sierra Nevadas, snow cover is vital to water supply. Mountainous areas like this one provide water for entire watersheds. When snow melts, there can be three different results that occur. The snow can drift off of the surface level of the soil, it can evaporate, or it can replenish groundwater. Groundwater recharge is important because it helps to get underground water levels back up to a healthy level.

Sierra nevada sign

Less snowfall in the Sierra Nevadas has created an effect on humans, wildlife, and the environment. “The lower than historically normal snowfall in recent years is one environmental factor that has contributed to the current drought in California,” says Ryan Webb, a Ph.D. student in the department of civil and environmental engineering at Colorado State University.

Sierra snow depth

^The map above depicts the amount of Sierra Nevada snow depth in inches^

Webb and a group of researchers recently studied the changes in soil wetting and drying in alpine regions packed with snow. The study became published work. It specifically examined groundwater levels and their ability to recharge in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. Due to changing climate conditions that have caused extensive change in groundwater levels, in these regions soils do not freeze during the winter and remain wet beneath the snowpack.

Ultimately, Webb and his group’s study will help understand how climate change impacts groundwater supplies, which is a precious resource in drought-stricken areas of the country.

Source:

Melting Snow and Groundwater Levels in Sierra Nevadas. Science Daily. August 20th, 2015.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150820190321.htm

Images:

  1. fineartamerica.com
  2. europeinavan.com
  3. sierranevadaphotos.com

MIT Finds Way to Reuse Water from Fracking

fracking oil

Fracking, or the process of extracting oil from underground reservoirs, takes a lot of time, money, and water. But humans are extremely dependent on this technique because it brings out a natural resource that fuels transportation methods that we use in our everyday lives. Cars, buses, trains, and planes are just a few of the ways we get around that use oil as fuel. So how can a process that is so important still be so inefficient? Fracking wastes millions of gallons of water per year, water that could be reused for other purposes.

So why isn’t it being reused? Because when water is pressurized down into the ground to extract oil, it becomes contaminated and deemed “brimy”. This type of water is discarded into deep injection wells and new, clean water is bought to continue the fracking process.

Oil Rig

Luckily a company that works with MIT has come up with a genius process to reuse some of these million gallons that are wasted every year. This company, called Gradient Corporation, has created a cost-effective process to treat brimy oilfield water for reuse. Depending on the location and type of fracking, carrier gas extraction (CGE) or selective chemical extraction (SCE) is used to clean the brimy water. Carrier gas extraction heats produced water into vapor and condenses it back into water without contaminants. In selective chemical extraction, chemical reactions remove specific contaminants. Both processes are effective, easy to use, and will save millions of dollars annually for fracking companies.

Reusing water is important, especially at a time when the West Coast is in a severe drought. It is important that every person does their part in helping to save water and save our environment. There are so many ways that you can save water, but one important way that also improves your health is to buy a water filtration system for your home that reuses backwash water. Think of it as your own system, like fracking, that can normally waste backwash water. Filtercon Technologies has developed a system that does just the opposite; reuses that water for other purposes while still purifying the water that goes into your home. Want to know more? Visit http://www.filtercon.com or call us at 800-550-1995.

Source:

Toward Cheaper Water Treatment. MIT News. July 15, 2015. http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/cheaper-fracking-water-treatment-0716

Images:

1) wkms.org

2) huffingtonpost.com