Church and state entwine in Bhutan, where King Jigme Singye Wangchuck [at left] wears a yellow scarf, a symbol of his authority, as he consults with Buddhist leaders on matters of public policy.
The true colors of Bhutan are woven in soil: Nine out of ten Bhutanese are farmers like Sonam Yudron, who lives near Lumitsawa, and most harvests are bright with chilies drying on rooftops.
The path of enlightenment is lonely and narrow for monks at Taktshang Monastery, who take turns meditating alone in a cliffside retreat for three years, three months, three weeks, and three days.
Once forbidden to outsiders, a glimpse of the Himalaya in Bhutan is as tantalizing as the sighting of a rare and beautiful bird. Spending time with locals is a high priority on Destination Himalaya's tours throughout Sri Lanka, Mongolia, and the Himalaya. National Geographic Adventure is pleased to provide this opportunity for you to share your comments about this article.
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2010 was a year of extreme water events, from dramatic hydrological changes in China and Pakistan to fracking pollution stateside and sinkholes in Guatemala. This gallery is part of a special National Geographic News series on global water issues.Mohammed Nawaz was rescued by the Pakistani Navy on August 10 in Sukkur, Pakistan, as floods swept through the country. Pakistani teenagers make a long trek out of a shrunken swimming hole at drought-ravaged Simli Dam, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) from Islamabad, in a photo taken June 22.A lack of rain earlier this year forced Pakistan to drain its reservoirs and groundwater supplies, before floodwaters hit at the end of July. Triggered by a reservoir collapse in early October at the Ajkai Timfoldgyar alumina plant in the town of Ajka (map), Hungary, a toxic-sludge flood devastated seven towns with contaminated water, fouled fields, and wrecked ecosystems.
The connection between energy and water resources was in the spotlight this year as hydraulic fracturing ramped up across the country, along with fears that the toxic fluid produced in the process could pollute drinking water sources.
The process, being used in a number of states from Wyoming to Pennsylvania, involves pumping large volumes of chemically treated water at high pressure into underground shale and sand formations to produce natural gas. About 4 million gallons (15 million liters) of water are pumped thousands of feet underground at each well. The process has stirred especially great controversy in Pennsylvania, where the industry is growing rapidly since its arrival just three years ago, with 2,100 wells so far.


While natural gas companies assure local residents and environmental officials that fracking fluid is pumped right past groundwater resources through a steel and cement pipe, eliminating the threat of drinking water pollution (20 percent of Pennsylvania residents use groundwater), concerned citizens and scientists point to the fact that about 20 to 50 percent of the drilling fluid migrates back to the surface.
This a€?produced water,a€? which includes the frack chemicals, is a super-salty brine, prone to bacterial growth, and potentially contaminated with heavy metals. Workers watch Yangtze River floodwater jetting through the six-story-tall Three Gorges Dam on July 19. Heavy rains this summer in Western China caused deadly flooding and mudslides, some of the worst the country has seen in decades.
A major justification for the dam's construction was its potential for controlling the Yangtze's notorious floods. Some scientist argue that this year did not see extreme flooding, but the events become more and more serious as population densities grow, natural waterways become increasingly engineered and manipulated for agriculture and industry, and cities grow. Just before floods and mud ravished China, the southwestern part of the country was plagued by droughta€”the worst China had seen in 50 years. The drought dehydrated 16 million acres of farmland in more than four provinces, and left 20 million people without drinking water, according to the Los Angeles Times. Chinese leaders point to unusually low rainfall levels as the cause of the drought, while countries that sit downstream of China wonder about the role of four dams on the Chinese section of the Mekong River, the primary source of surface water for 60 million people in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, reported the New York Times. Asia's "water tower"a€”the snow and glaciers in the Himalayas and Tibetan plateaua€”supplies some of the world's largest rivers. The Tibetan Plateau as a whole is still heating up twice as fast as the global average of 1.3A°F over the past centurya€”and in some places even faster, according to a March article in National Geographic magazine.
In honor of April 18, we take a look at how science organizes and names speciesa€”sometimes with a sense of humor.
Millions of dead fish have also contaminated rivers, leading to a shortage of clean drinking water, the Reuters news agency reported.Caused by El NiA±oa€”a cyclical warming of tropical waters in the central and eastern Pacific Oceana€”such a severe drought usually occurs once in a century.
Another way sinkholes can form is if water enlarges a natural fracture in a limestone bedrock layer. Flooding across 28 provinces and regions killed more than 1,000 people, according to news reports.


Building the dam flooded hundreds of miles of pristine gorges, villages, and historic temples.
In turn, these rivers support nearly 1.5 billion people, or one-fifth of the world's population.
Kolahoi (17,799 ft.) rising above the clouds on the Kolahoi Glacier Valley, Araru, Kashmire, India.
In the foreground a fortress built to repel Tibetan invaders crumbles to the ground.After a thousand years of solitude, the hermit kingdom is trekking over steep ground to reach the modern world. Pakistan has the world's largest contiguous irrigated landscape, with riverside agriculture and human-made canals replacing natural floodplains, wetlands, and river flows that would traditionally hold more water and ease flooding.
As the crack gets bigger, the topsoil gently slumps, eventually leaving behind a sinkhole.It's unclear which mechanism is behind the 2010 Guatemala sinkhole, but in either case the final collapse was sudden. In at least 130 cases documented since 2008 by Pennsylvania environmental authorities, drilling wastewater has spilled into creeks and tributaries due to holding pond overflows, pump failures, and other errors. Climate scientists have been predicting that most of these rivers would be hit hard as temperatures rise, forcing river flows to dwindle to a trickle and likely causing serious food shortages. The research also shows that the glacier is retreating by almost ten feet (three meters) a year. Using satellite observations, NASA and university researchers have found that rivers and melting ice sheets delivered 18 percent more water to the oceans in 2006 than in 1994.
The findings, which National Geographic Freshwater Fellow Sandra Postel blogged about in October, suggest that the volume of water running off the land toward the sea is expanding by the equivalent of roughly one Mississippi River each year.Why is the water cycle speeding up?



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Comments

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