Tuesday, May 31, 2011

High Waters

Around Idaho (and many other parts of the country), it's been a cool, wet spring. That means many streams and rivers are raging torrents right now.

Boundary Creek (pictured above), on the border of Idaho and Canada, looks typical of many streams right: frothing whitewater raging past rocks and boulders.

For most Idahoans, this is a welcome sight. To be sure, there can be flooding in some areas. However, most recognize ample water as essential for Idaho's agriculture, hydropower, outdoor recreation and wildlife. High waters mean wetlands (like Ball Creek Ranch Preserve, above) are full and attracting nesting waterfowl. And a raging creek is much preferred to drought.

That's not the case everywhere. Along the Mississippi, from Missouri to Louisiana, is experiencing record floods this year--causing suffering and intense damage to communities and farms.

What's going on here? And what can we do about it? The Nature Conservancy's Jeff Opperman offers the fundamentals on flood science in a special feature on this week's nature.org.

No comments: