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Water and Life on Earth

Water makes life as we know it possible. Every drop cycles continuously through air, land, and sea, to be used by someone (or something) else “downstream.” Water covers 70% of Earth’s surface, but only 3% is fresh, and only a fraction of one percent supports all life on land. Climate change and growing populations are increasing the pressures on that reserve. By using water more wisely, we can make sure there’s enough to share with all living things.

Support for the development of Science Topics was generously provided by Sidney and Helaine Lerner, GRACE Communications Foundation.

NYC Water Story Interactive_LG

The New York City Water Story: An Interactive Animation

Millions of gallons of water flow through New York City. Where does it all come from? And where does it all go? Take an interactive journey to find out.


Bahamas Biocomplexity Project

The Bahamas Biocomplexity Project (BBP) is an interdisciplinary research effort that combines the study of marine biodiversity, oceanography, and humans in order to improve the design of networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) for biodiversity conservation, fisheries sustainability, and other human uses.


What's the Big Idea About Water

All living things, from tiny cyanobacteria to giant blue whales, need water to survive. Without water, life as we know it would not exist. And life exists wherever there is water.


Cleaning the Water

With an appreciation for the scarcity of fresh drinkable water, this young naturalist set out to test methods for filtering the contaminated poultry house water on his family’s farm.


Eleanor Sterling Blogs From Palmyra Atoll for the New York Times

Eleanor Sterling, director of the Museum's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, blogged for The New York Times from the pristine Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific, where she and six Museum colleagues studied the green and hawksbill sea turtles. 


Recycling Water

There's a new way to view—and use—sewage in Southern California. It still flows from household drains, but instead of being discharged into the ocean, the water is purified and sent back to replenish its original source underground.


Bronx River Restoration

Can an urban waterway reclaim its historical ecological health?


Sustainable Development in Latin America

Water has always played a key role in the development, sustenance, and success of Latin American societies, both ancient and modern.

Working for Water

Working for Water

Around the world, ecosystems are being disrupted by invasive plants--species purposely or accidentally imported to a place where they lack natural enemies.


Congo Project

The spectacular Lower Congo River is biologically rich, but faces growing threats, which makes it a compelling focus for scientific exploration and biodiversity discovery


GRACE: Tracking Water From Space

Two satellites are monitoring the effects of climate change on our blue planet.


Hydropower and Ocean Energy

From rushing rivers to waterfalls to waves breaking on the beach, water energy is all around us.

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