The Best Book About Water I've Ever Read
by Craig Childs
Many of the reasons we are working to save and clean water at friendsofwater.com are highlighted in a wonderful and exceptionally readable book 'The Secret Knowledge of Water'. The book celebrates water through the direct experiences and observations of a talented naturalist. I've read this book two or three times - and I think I'll read it again soon.
Bangs Canyon area in Colorado
Water has its own life - and plays out in mysterious ways. In the desert, Childs finds plentiful waters, although much of it is hidden. He sees water in an unannounced flash flood on a dry day that throws huge amounts of mud, boulders and broken trees in its path. There are many wonderful stories; one follows. As you can see, Childs' conveys the imagery of what he has experienced with great clarity.
"I waited for night, six hours away. When the shadows went long at about five o'clock, I returned to a place in the bed where earlier I had detected a trace of dampness. I organized a stopwatch, a tape measurer, and my notebook on the stream cobbles and watched the spot, which was still moist. At about 5:30 water came out of the ground. It did not spew up, but slowly escaped into the surrounding sand and small rocks. The wet circle grew until water becoame visible. Then it bubbled out like a small fountain and the creek began.
"As soon as light strikes leaf surfaces at sunrise, the riparian forest sets its higher metabolism into motion, photosynthesizing and pumping phenomenal amounts of water up to the canopy. The thickly arranged plants along the creek are known as phreatophytes, meaning they have no control mechanism for water. They are not true plants of the desert. They take as much water as they can get (a day's worth for a single tree being enough for a few lifetimes of a large cactus), sending it out to the leaves, into the heat, making the understory as humid as a New Orleans summer. Instead of flowing across the ground, the creek is hoisted a hundered feet into the air into the leaves of sycamores, willows, cottonwoods, alders, and Arizona walnuts. What is not taken shrinks into the ground and returns to the water table. The surface creek is sucked dry.
"As light faded from the trees, the creek saturated the surrounding ground before actually taking depth. I drank it there, at its source, my lips against the rocks. Within an hour it was moving. Here and there a new channel broke forward with swift fingers, liberating the wing of a moth, the doily veins of decomposed leaf, a dead beetle. Then it slowed, testing the route, finding places into which it spilled. Dusk came. The creek gained speed, making sounds, pushing pieces of gravel around, sucking air from the soil. As soon as the creek had about eighty feet of ground, longfin dace, supple little fish about an inch or two long, began darting about. There must have been a hundred of them. They spent the day in sponges of soaked algea protected under leaf piles, or in rotted pieces of wood where water had collected, surviving in a half-alive torpor as the rocks baked around them. Water beetles, who had hidden in the same fashion, spun into action.
"Finally, in the dark, the gurgling sound of the creek became loud enough that the bottom of the canyon had transformed. Through a parade of fireflies and the dance of fish and diving bettles, the water had come. Tomorrow, in the sunlight, all of this would again be gone."
Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona
Another astonishing story is about when Childs pushed his way into a hole in rock wall in a canyon, from which a fountain of water is gushing. He walks inside a cave..... I leave you to get the book to explore with him.
This is a thoughtful, powerful and beautiful book. It will entertain you and leave you enlightened.
The Secret Knowledge of Water:
Discovering the Essence of the American Desert by Craig Childs
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Bottom pressure, salinity, and satellite-detected distribution suggest a shift from a clockwise to a counterclockwise pattern prevalent prior to the 1990s. Researchers say changes in Arctic Ocean circulation are important to understanding seasonal weather patterns and decades-long trends in sea ice extent and thickness.
Time-varying gravity field data produced by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite mission between 2002 and 2006 was studied. Comparisons of that data with new direct measurements of Arctic Ocean bottom pressure not only confirm the accuracy and utility of the satellite measurements, but show the declining trend in bottom pressure that corresponds to decreasing upper ocean salinities near the North Pole and in the Arctic`s Makarov Basin.
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