Stories tagged erosion

Remember the wild video from about a year ago of a huge rainfall causing an embankment to collapse and drain all the water from Lake Delton into the Wisconsin River? You can find it here. A year later, the embankment is patched, water has filled the man-made lake basin and recreation seekers are coming back. You can read about that here. I do want to know, however, how they're going to restock fish in the lake. The USA Today story says that the lake has been stocked with minnows that won't be ready for fishing for a couple more years. I don't know about you, but I usually set my sights higher when I go fishing than just settling for some minnows.

Apr
22
2009

Big wheel keep on turnin': Modern agriculture produces more food on less space than traditional forms.
Big wheel keep on turnin': Modern agriculture produces more food on less space than traditional forms.Courtesy Andrew Stawarz

Continuing our string of counter-intuitive ecological findings, today we read an article which argues that factory farms are good for the environment. It turns out that people need food. And the 6-billion-plus people on the planet today need a LOT of food. So much so, that 38% of the Earth’s land surface is dedicated to farming. That’s a lot. But, thanks to innovations like pest-resistant foods, artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and expanding irrigation, it’s less than half the area that would be necessary under more traditional farming methods.

(Genetically modified crops are particularly beneficial, as they require fewer chemicals, less fertilizer and help reduce erosion.)

This is not to say that big farms are not without their environmental impact. But that impact is a lot less than it would have been without these innovations. So, on this Earth Day, let us give thanks to the farmers for feeding us, and for doing it so efficiently.

One of the iconic images of Arches National Park in Utah, the Wall Arch, collapsed last week. Global warming is not to blame for this, just regular old geologic forces of erosion and gravity working against the beauty of the rock formation. Click here for the full story and before and after photos. The last major arch to collapse at the park went down in 1991.

Mar
18
2007

What a beach: In the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Cancun has had a hard time keeping sand on its beaches in its resort areas. Rebuilding efforts from the hurricane are quickly eroding away again, with up to 30 percent losses.
What a beach: In the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Cancun has had a hard time keeping sand on its beaches in its resort areas. Rebuilding efforts from the hurricane are quickly eroding away again, with up to 30 percent losses.
After a devastating hit by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Mexico spent $19 million to rebuild beaches in the popular tourist destination of Cancun. Now, those efforts appear to be quickly eroding away.

Following the devastating impacts of the hurricane, ocean depths were dredged and eight miles of popular beach front were rebuilt, and actually expanded, to try to prevent the huge loss of beach to happen again.

But less than two years later, up to 30 percent of that sand is now missing. On some portions of the beach, swimmers and tanners have to jump down a three-foot drop in the beach to get to the current sand level.

What’s going on?

Environmentalists in the area insist any efforts will be wasted efforts unless more vegetation is worked into the areas between hotels and beaches. The roots of those plants and trees would help stabilize the impacts of erosion along the coast, they contend.

But the people in the tourist industry feel that building an artificial reef along the beach would help to lessen the impacts of waves and tides on the beaches. They’re drawing up plans to create a public/private partnership to develop and maintain such a reef.

The tourist industry concerns also say that there is a cyclical action to the growth and decrease of Cancun’s beaches. It contends that erosion happens in the winter months when coastal winds and currents are stronger. Then the sands return to the beach in calmer months.

But the environmentalists contend that situation has been getting progressively worse since the 1970s when large hotels began being developed along the beaches and native vegetation was pulled out.

What do you think? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.