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Dry conditions across the West follow a hot, dry year of record-setting wildfires in 2020. Communities were left with scenes like this, from California's Creek Fire. Amir AghaKouchak / University of California Irvine

By Mojtaba Sadegh, Amir AghaKouchak and John Abatzoglou

Just about every indicator of drought is flashing red across the western U.S. after a dry winter and warm early spring. The snowpack is at less than half of normal in much of the region. Reservoirs are being drawn down, river levels are dropping and soils are drying out.

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An offshore wind farm at Block Island, Rhode Island on Aug. 14, 2016. Mark Harrington / Newsday RM via Getty Images

By Erin Baker and Matthew Lackner

The United States' offshore wind industry is tiny, with just seven wind turbines operating off Rhode Island and Virginia. The few attempts to build large-scale wind farms like Europe's have run into long delays, but that may be about to change.

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The contents of our mattresses are often an afterthought. That's a mistake, as research shows that the quality of your sleeping surface can significantly impact your health.

As consumers gain awareness about the health effects of sleeping on potentially toxic compounds, mattress companies are responding with new beds made from better materials. Today, you can choose from a broad range of mattresses made from all-natural components, including organic wool, cotton, and latex. Here's a summary of the best non-toxic, eco-friendly mattresses available today and how to decide between them.

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An orchard near Kettleman City in California's San Joaquin Valley on April 2, 2021. Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images

By Debra Perrone and Scott Jasechko

As the drought outlook for the Western U.S. becomes increasingly bleak, attention is turning once again to groundwater – literally, water stored in the ground. It is Earth's most widespread and reliable source of fresh water, but it's not limitless.

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Fire in one part of a community can contaminate the water system used by other residents, as Santa Rosa, California, discovered after the Tubbs Fire. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

By Andrew J. Whelton

More than 58,000 fires scorched the United States last year, and 2021 is on track to be even drier. What many people don't realize is that these wildfires can do lasting damage beyond the reach of the flames – they can contaminate entire drinking water systems with carcinogens that last for months after the blaze. That water flows to homes, contaminating the plumbing, too.

Over the past four years, wildfires have contaminated drinking water distribution networks and building plumbing for more than 240,000 people.

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Researchers still don't know the true impact of microplastics on human health. filadendron / Getty Images

By Mark Patrick Taylor, Neda Sharifi Soltani and Scott P. Wilson

Australians are eating and inhaling significant numbers of tiny plastics at home, our new research shows.

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rez-art / iStock / Getty Images

By Anna Mattila

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

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The California Aqueduct, a system of canals, tunnels and pipelines, conveys water collected from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and valleys of Northern and Central California to Southern California. Rolf Schulten / ullstein bild / Getty Images

By Roger Bales and Brandi McKuin

Climate change and water scarcity are front and center in the western U.S. The region's climate is warming, a severe multi-year drought is underway and groundwater supplies are being overpumped in many locations.

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A prairie strip filled with flowers and wild rye grass between soybean fields on Tim Smith's farm near Eagle Grove, Iowa, reduces greenhouse gases and stores carbon in the soil. The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Lisa Schulte Moore

Agriculture has not been a central part of U.S. climate policy in the past, even though climate change is altering weather patterns that farmers rely on. Now, however, President Biden has directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a climate-smart agriculture and forestry strategy.

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For 149 years, Americans have marked Arbor Day on the last Friday in April by planting trees. fstop123 / E+ / Getty Images

By Karen D. Holl and Pedro Brancalion

For 149 years, Americans have marked Arbor Day on the last Friday in April by planting trees. Now business leaders, politicians, YouTubers and celebrities are calling for the planting of millions, billions or even trillions of trees to slow climate change.

As ecologists who study forest restoration, we know that trees store carbon, provide habitat for animals and plants, prevent erosion and create shade in cities. But as we have explained elsewhere in detail, planting trees is not a silver bullet for solving complex environmental and social problems. And for trees to produce benefits, they need to be planted correctly – which often is not the case.

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A man walks along the Huntington Beach Pier as the biggest supermoon of 2019 sets on Feb. 19 in Huntington Beach, California. Mark Rightmire / MediaNews Group / Orange County Register via Getty Images

By Brian McNoldy

A "super full moon" is coming on April 27, 2021, and coastal cities like Miami know that means one thing: a heightened risk of tidal flooding.

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The black cherries of Coffea stenophylla. E. Couturon / IRD, Author provided

By Aaron P Davis

The world loves coffee. More precisely, it loves arabica coffee. From the smell of its freshly ground beans through to the very last sip, arabica is a sensory delight.

Robusta, the other mainstream coffee crop species, is almost as widely traded as arabica, but it falls short on flavor. Robusta is mainly used for instant coffee and blends, while arabica is the preserve of discerning baristas and expensive espressos.

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A view of Lake Powell from Romana Mesa, Utah, on Sept. 8, 2018. DEA / S. AMANTINI / Contributor / Getty Images

By Robert Glennon

Interstate water disputes are as American as apple pie. States often think a neighboring state is using more than its fair share from a river, lake or aquifer that crosses borders.

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