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How climate change reduced the flow of the Colorado River

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The massive Colorado River, which provides water for seven US states, has seen its flow reduced by 20 percent over the course of a century — and more than half of that loss is due to climate change, according to new research published Thursday.

Two scientists at the US Geological Survey developed a mathematical model of the water movements — snowfall, rainfall, run-off, evaporation — in the upper Colorado River basin for the period from 1913 to 2017.

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To do so, they used historical temperature and precipitation data, along with satellite readings of radiation, in order to understand how climate change had affected those water movements.

They observed that global warming had led each year to a reduction in the snow pack, or the amount of snow that accumulates. So if there is less and less snow, it melts earlier and earlier each spring.

With less snow covering the ground, the soil in the river basin was absorbing more sunlight — instead of it being reflected away by the snow.

As a result, there is more evaporation of water in the basin, Paul Milly of the US Geological Survey explained to AFP. That means a decrease in river flow.

The study shows that during the 1913-2017 period, the flow decreased by roughly 20 percent.

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“More than half of this decrease was associated with warming. The rest was related to variations in precipitation,” Milly said.

The Colorado River — which is 1,450 miles (2,330 kilometers) long — is one of the main rivers in the southwestern United States.

It is a vital source of water for 40 million people, including the residents of Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

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It flows into Mexico and by the time it ends in the Gulf of California, it is nearly dried out.


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Trump administration quietly guts COVID-19 paid leave provision that already excluded 75 percent of workers

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The Trump administration has quietly issued new guidance that will exempt many small businesses from having to provide some workers with paid leave during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Labor issued a temporary rule Wednesday that effectively exempted businesses with fewer than 50 workers from being required to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers whose children are suddenly at home from school or child care under the coronavirus stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump is deploying national guardsman to provide pandemic support without any health benefits: report

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The National Guard are an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of them have potentially been exposed to infected civilians, making it a particularly dangerous and important time to serve.

But according to The Daily Beast, the guard has been deployed in a way that prevents them from being eligible for the military's health care system.

"The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs," wrote senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman. "But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE — think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform — to cover them."

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Vaccine researchers grew ‘alarmed’ as Trump’s CDC wasted weeks of their time with a flawed coronavirus test: report

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According to a report from the Washington Post, in the early days as health officials became concerned about the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic blossoming out of China, researchers sat and wasted days they could have used to start developing a vaccine because they were assured by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that a testing kit was on its way.

As it turned out, that test was flawed.

Relying on emails and interviews, the Post is reporting, "On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing 'unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,' according to an email summarizing the call."

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