Everything you ever wanted to know about water…plus a few more gallons, besides…don’t worry, we’re keeping it very informal around here.
Clathrate Gun – Man, the stuff you run into when you really start getting addicted to this Climate Change stuff! Clathrate Gun…what the heck is that? Sounds like something an evil villain would wave menacingly at the citizens of Gotham City until his dark demands were met. Unfortunately, the term refers to something potentially even more sinister, describing an event rather than a thing when it comes down to it. In short, there is methane buried in rather stable fashion all around the world. Methane is in places like peat bogs, wetlands, marshes, and swamps, permafrost beneath the ocean floor and in the frozen tundras, among others. When large sources of these methane hydrates (or clathrates)-so called because the gas is physically mixed in with a watery crystalline mixture that sort of acts like a cage that contains the gas inside…anyway, when the stability of these sources is threatened either by increased temperatures or decreased water levels, the methane can be released in massive quantity, very suddenly and without warning, in what are described as methane bursts or burps. Because methane is quite the powerful greenhouse gas, and because there is potentially so much of it that could be released into the atmosphere by rising ocean temps, some scientists believe that the result would trigger runaway and self-reinforcing weather patterns. Such an event would not bode well for the future of humankind. There are even those who say the Clathrate Gun has already fired and we are now on a course with disaster. Others say much ado about nothing. To form your own opinions, you have to be courageous and dig into the literature so you can educate yourself with the facts.
Hydroponics – Growing stuff without the use of soil. Usually attempted with some sort of established structure involving containers in which the water is bounded and then aerated and amended with micro-nutrients. The water is constantly circulated in some manner with a pump system, enabling the plants to access these nutrients in a much more controlled manner than would otherwise be possible.
Percolate – Think of how your coffee maker creates your favorite morning beverage. Water falls on top of the coffee, then filters on through to the pot below. Rain filters through the ground in similar fashion. And just like the coffee is picked up and carried through the filter to give you that wonderful aroma and flavor, minerals and sediment are carried down through the soil by the percolating water before reaching their destination (probably not final) further below the surface.
Recharge – Refers to the replenishment of groundwater in aquifers to replace the water that has been drawn out. It very accurately describes the necessity of this process if the world’s aquifers are to continue doing what they do best – providing human kind with the “power” of fresh water. Unfortunately, in the same way that a battery will eventually fail if it is used more than it is recharged, aquifers can become depleted through over-usage. We can’t keep taking out more water from our aquifers than we allow to go back in. In the end that plan fails, and, indeed, that is what is happening to many aquifers all around the world.
Sublimation – In the case of water, when it goes from its solid state, such as snow or ice, directly to its gaseous state (i.e., water vapor) it’s called sublimation. The most popular form to see sublimation in action is around Halloween time, when the supplies of dry ice (carbon dioxide in solid form) are brought out for the Trick or Treaters and party goers, offering a festive fog for punch bowls, graveyards, and haunted houses.
Subsidence – When things intended to stay on top of the ground are sinking into that same ground…that’s basic subsidence. Not only do heavy things sink into the ground, but the ground sinks, too. This phenomenon is often the result of overdrawing groundwater resources. It is also permanent. The ground does not return to previous levels even if the aquifer is recharged.