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A World Without Water


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Posted
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset

    For some while I have been observing the UK water supply – generally dwindling. In many other parts of the world the same thing is happening – although I obviously accept that in certain places there is more precipitation than usual.

    My own records have given Taunton just 17 mm of rain this month – about 30% of average.

    Now, tonight, there are two programs on Channel 4 on the subject.

    My questions are:

    Are we running out of water? :o Are we, in the UK, getting less rain on the whole?

    What will happen over the next 30 years? :o Climate change will continue to alter our rainfall – will we eventually get more or less? :D Is the Mediterranean climate coming our way? :D

    And – how would we cope with perhaps 50% less rain?

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    Posted
  • Location: G.Manchester
  • Location: G.Manchester

    My opinion is that it's all due to the cycel that we have every 20 years or so. I think the 90's was generally quite a wet decade and 2000 was the wettest year since 1872. Since 2000 rainfall has taken a considerable drop. Mainly due to the continuation of very warm summers (Although August 2004 was much warmer than average it was also much wetter than average)

    I also think, due to the Jet-stream having little influence over us and in itself being weak there aren't any atlantic weather fronts being pushed our way. This is the main problem with a dieying Jet, it perhaps might bring us cold winters, more notably rather dry years I think.

    Although March was wet the last very wet month was october...not exactly that long ago when compared to the 2 year drought of 1975/1976.

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    Posted
  • Location: Worcestershire
  • Location: Worcestershire

    Yep here in worcestershire have had 103mm so far this year, we would usually get that in January alone. Well a warmer globe means drier atmoshere, so i guess we shouldnt be suprised really. ;)

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    Posted
  • Location: Evesham, Worcs, Albion
  • Location: Evesham, Worcs, Albion

    Actually, global warming should lead to a wetter world - higher temps mean more evapouration.

    I don;t think it's any drier in the UK now really than the early 90s were. Or the mid 70s.

    However, there are now more people using more water than there were then (no dishwashers in the 70s ;) ) and we haven't upgraded our water management and supply systems to compensate. Thus a small drop in rainfall leads to a big drop in reservoir levels.

    And maybe part of the blame for that is all the reports saying that because of GW, winter rainfall was going to significantly increase - leading water companies to expect flooding, but not winter droughts...... ;)

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    Posted
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
  • Weather Preferences: Snow, thunder, strong winds. HATE:stagnant weather patterns
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
    However, there are now more people using more water than there were then (no dishwashers in the 70s ;) ) and we haven't upgraded our water management and supply systems to compensate. Thus a small drop in rainfall leads to a big drop in reservoir levels.

    This is a very good point. Another thing that doesn't help is the amount of burst water mains that seem to be left for ages before being repaired. There have been so many around here lately, gallons upon gallons of water must have been wasted.

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    Posted
  • Location: Worcestershire
  • Location: Worcestershire
    Actually, global warming should lead to a wetter world - higher temps mean more evapouration.

    Yes, but correct me if im wrong, but a higher atmospheric temperature can hold more water vapour before saturation point? Like at 15c with a humidity of 95%, at 10c warmer 25c that humidity reading would be lower at around 60%, as more vapour can be held aloft (just like having a bigger sponge at higher temps?).

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    Posted
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
    Actually, global warming should lead to a wetter world - higher temps mean more evaporation.

    Absolutely! ;) I agree wholeheartedly! :)

    BUT......WE aren't getting it! ;)

    Scotland and parts of Ireland may remain wet but I've a feeling that we're coming under the influence of a more southerly climate - drier; warmer (eventually) and with rain becoming more seasonally confined.

    Global warming should produce more precipitation but not necessarily over us.

    I'm banking on standpipes and rationing in the south before too long! ;)

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    Surprisingly, I don't think the evidence necessarily points to our climate becoming drier because of global warming.

    The mid 1990s were quite dry, but then the years of 1998-2000 were wet, as was 2002.

    The drought of 1989-1991 should be noted- winter 1988/89 was very dry in the SE, and the following year was also very dry in that region. 1990 probably wasn't so bad because the winter of 1989/90 was wet. Then Winter 1990/91 was quite dry too, and followed by a dry 1991.

    What does seem to be happening, though, is that the southeast is becoming marginally drier, while the northwest is becoming marginally wetter- so not a reduction in rainfall, but more a redistribution.

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    Posted
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
    Surprisingly, I don't think the evidence necessarily points to our climate becoming drier because of global warming.

    What does seem to be happening, though, is that the southeast is becoming marginally drier, while the northwest is becoming marginally wetter - so not a reduction in rainfall, but more a redistribution.

    Taking Britain as a whole, that seems to be a fair comment.

    However, typically, all the people are where the rain isn't - as usual. :) Except when they're on holiday! :D

    While those of you in Scotland may benefit from the continued rain, will the main bulk of the population have to change their ways of life?

    Surely we can't import enough water from the north to satisfy the south?

    There should be more water around due to the GW effect, etc - but if so, is it going to be distributed where we want it? Apparently not.

    Increased temperatures may cause more cloud and rain but the higher temperatures will cause greater evaporation too. What comes down must go up! :)

    So my question remains - what will Britain be like in say 30 years?

    We're bound to be warmer (if you believe in GW) but how much drier will we be? :blink:

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    Posted
  • Location: Tyne & Wear
  • Location: Tyne & Wear

    truth to be told thois monthhas been alot more unsettled in general than the last 12 months. however knowbody knows what the future will hold. spain had a masisve drought last year but just last month north west america was experiencing major rain falls with over 2 foot of snow in new york. there will always be equall amounts of water in earth just it will fall in different places. CLIMATE CHANGE.

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    Posted
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
    Yes, but correct me if im wrong, but a higher atmospheric temperature can hold more water vapour before saturation point? Like at 15c with a humidity of 95%, at 10c warmer 25c that humidity reading would be lower at around 60%, as more vapour can be held aloft (just like having a bigger sponge at higher temps?).

    I think this is right. But...

    If you looks the hydrological cycle the amount of water vapour in the atmopshere at any one time is, infact, minimal compared ot the amount in the oceans,or indeed as fresh water - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_cycle . So, in warmer world, more WV (and a bigger GH effect) and, in all likelyhood, more rain at least globally.

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    Posted
  • Location: South of Glasgow 55.778, -4.086, 86m
  • Location: South of Glasgow 55.778, -4.086, 86m

    I suspect that the current lack of rain in some parts of the UK is due to temporary synoptical rather than permanent global irregularities, and therefore will not lead to long-term problems.

    On the other hand, it happens that the most populated area of the UK is also one of the driest, and it may be that population increase, rather than precipitation decrease, could well lead to substantial water shortages until infrastructure strategy catches up.

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    Posted
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
    I suspect that the current lack of rain in some parts of the UK is due to temporary synoptical rather than permanent global irregularities, and therefore will not lead to long-term problems.

    On the other hand, it happens that the most populated area of the UK is also one of the driest, and it may be that population increase, rather than precipitation decrease, could well lead to substantial water shortages until infrastructure strategy catches up.

    Ah ha!!! :angry:

    You've hit on the answer! :)

    Let's move London up to the highlands of Scotland! :D

    Speaking seriously - how long is "long term"?

    Surely the SE of UK with their 20 million people, all doing without water (or being unable to use their dishwashers :D ) for more than a few weeks/months, etc, can't be considered as a "long term" problem?

    Or can it?

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    Posted
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset

    Bon soir, Monsieur T. V.

    My brother lives down at Vanxians, about 70 miles inland from Bordeaux.

    Their well has run dry – despite the locals telling him that it would ‘never’ run dry.

    He has given up any hope of market gardening because everything is so dry.

    He is being plagued by termites which have moved up from North Africa.

    "Rain - what rain?" - he says to me. "Had some snow but it didn't last." But that was a while ago.

    I sympathise.

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    Solution: tackle the North South Divide; instead of building masses of housing in the South East to encourage more northerners to move down there and strengthen the divide, renevate derelict areas up north.

    It probably wouldn't cost much more to do, and in the long run, would probably save money, and ease the problems of overpopulation, overuse of resources (such as water!) and traffic congestion in the South East. Regional prosperity in terms of job opportunities and annual salaries comes at a big environmental price.

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    Posted
  • Location: South of Glasgow 55.778, -4.086, 86m
  • Location: South of Glasgow 55.778, -4.086, 86m
    Ah ha!!! :)

    You've hit on the answer! :)

    Let's move London up to the highlands of Scotland! :)

    Speaking seriously - how long is "long term"?

    Surely the SE of UK with their 20 million people, all doing without water (or being unable to use their dishwashers :D ) for more than a few weeks/months, etc, can't be considered as a "long term" problem?

    Or can it?

    I suppose it depends where you are. Hereabouts, a long-term water shortage is defined as getting to the shops and back without getting soaked.

    I also suppose that if an extended dry spell occurred in the southeast, to the extent that drinking water became in short supply, then that would be in the long term. I don’t know whether that would take months or years of relative dry weather but I further suppose it would be quicker resolved by people dispersing from London than have them wait for local or national politicians do anything about providing adequate water supplies.

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    Posted
  • Location: Leeds/Bradford border, 185 metres above sea level, around 600 feet
  • Location: Leeds/Bradford border, 185 metres above sea level, around 600 feet

    Interestingly, 2005 was actually a cyclonic year rather than a anticyclonic year, this, despite being below average in rainfall.

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    Posted
  • Location: Guess!
  • Location: Guess!

    Hi,

    A drought order has been granted in England and Wales for the first time since 1995, banning the non-essential use of water.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/souther...ies/4772373.stm

    I suspect that the reasons for inflicting this on the residents is based on some rather iffy statistics and it is a means of getting the water companies off the hook for doing sod-all about leaks from the system and nothing whatsoever about building a National Water Grid. Why have they done neither of these.....well that "leads us to an overwhelming question - oh do not ask it"! - it is so blooming obvious!

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    Posted
  • Location: Steeton, W Yorks, 270m ASL
  • Location: Steeton, W Yorks, 270m ASL
    Taking Britain as a whole, that seems to be a fair comment.

    However, typically, all the people are where the rain isn't - as usual. :( Except when they're on holiday! :lol:

    While those of you in Scotland may benefit from the continued rain, will the main bulk of the population have to change their ways of life?

    Surely we can't import enough water from the north to satisfy the south?

    There should be more water around due to the GW effect, etc - but if so, is it going to be distributed where we want it? Apparently not.

    Increased temperatures may cause more cloud and rain but the higher temperatures will cause greater evaporation too. What comes down must go up! :)

    So my question remains - what will Britain be like in say 30 years?

    We're bound to be warmer (if you believe in GW) but how much drier will we be? :lol:

    The natural tendency, all other warming trends being equal, would be for the climatic regime in the S of the UK to trend towards the Mediterranean cool variant: i.e. dry warm summers, temperate damp winters with few instances of minima <0C.

    As Essan and others point out, in a warnmer world overall the gas laws suggest that the overall situation will be more humid, not less. Of course, as with any change, there will be winners and losers.

    By far a bigger concern globally is that the current grain stores of the world are located in belts that have reasonable rainfall. Shift the climate belts 5N/S and suddenly these areas look less suitable for intesive cropping. Add to this the risk of erosion from heavier rainstorms and stronger winds and it doesn't look too pretty...

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    Looks to me like the restrictions are aimed at discouraging use of water for recreational purposes, rather than waste of water that carries no work-related or recreational purpose (e.g. leaving taps on unnecessarily, hosepiping gardens after it's been raining, overdoing washing the car etc)

    Politicians seem to think that recreation is the most unnecessary thing in the world these days- more so than flat-out waste.

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    Posted
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
    Of course, as with any change, there will be winners and losers.

    By far a bigger concern globally is that the current grain stores of the world are located in belts that have reasonable rainfall. Shift the climate belts 5N/S and suddenly these areas look less suitable for intesive cropping. Add to this the risk of erosion from heavier rainstorms and stronger winds and it doesn't look too pretty...

    Hi SF – and others

    The general indications are that, as you say, the climate belts will shift and 5 degrees N or S seems to be a fair guess. It certainly will affect grain growing belts – as well as rice growing areas, which will suffer from an altered rainfall and climate.

    If we had the acreage available, we too would become a grain exporter if we were warmer but not if we became too dry.

    On a local basis, heavier rainstorms and stronger winds are much more likely to affect us if the climate belts do move. We don’t really suffer from storm erosion (yet) and only in East Anglia is there any degree of wind erosion. Thanks to our generally fairly heavy vegetation covering, storm erosion may never affect us, but if our climate does become much drier, which it appears to be doing, then flash flooding (when it occurs) will have a greater impact on a less well-covered landscape.

    As you say, the outlook doesn’t look too pretty – we’re going to be one of the losers, I think.

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    I think the main problem with regards climate change is that the SE (the area that most needs rain) is likely to get drier, and the NW (the region that least needs it) is likely to get wetter.

    In 2005, the prevailing synoptics didn't exactly suggest "lots of rain in the NW, dry in the SE", but we still managed to get that kind of split.

    It would appear to have been even worse in 1989/1990, with exceptionally dry and sunny conditions for the SE, and exceptional amounts of rain for the NW, though in general it seems to have been another symptom of that post-1988 change in weather patterns. Rainfall in the SE also seems to have been more at-one-extreme-or-the-other, with 2000 being an extreme case of wetness in the SE.

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    Posted
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
  • Location: Taunton, Somerset
    I think the main problem with regards climate change is that the SE (the area that most needs rain) is likely to get drier, and the NW (the region that least needs it) is likely to get wetter.

    Exactly………. things seem to have become consistently more biased against the Southeast – not just occasionally.

    Caused by what?

    High pressure blocking?

    Weaker depressions?

    Different storm tracking?

    Surely as GW increases (won’t it?) the lack of rain will extend to the central areas of Britain. In not too many years, only SW coastal areas will get sufficient rain for their needs – and not enough to export to other parts of the UK.

    I’ll be ok here in Somerset – but how will people living elsewhere in the UK manage? :)

    PS to Tws - your earlier comments about restrictions. The government can’t afford to upset too many people by telling them they must not wash cars; must not play golf (because the greens are browns); must not go to work (because there isn’t enough water for industry).

    Don’t slate the Water Industry either. :)

    Play safe – just make dry noises! :doh:

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    • 2 weeks later...
    Posted
  • Location: Guess!
  • Location: Guess!

    This article by Philip Eden, on the Beeb's site really says it all for me.

    I don't believe the hype about water shortages. The privatisation of the water industry has allowed individual companies to continually deny their customers guaranteed water supplies, through continued leaks, or not financing a national water grid. Their misuse of statistics to try to highlight drought as a cause, instead of their own failings, is almost crminal.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5019846.stm

    Well worth a read! The info has been sitting on Philip's site for several months. This wider audience ought, now, to put the water companies to shame, but I'll bet it doesn't. Why? Because they service shareholders through dividends, not water consumers through a decent supply.

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