Of the water on the Earth's surface, 97% is in the oceans and 3% is freshwater, of which 2.5% is unavailable: locked up in glaciers, polar ice caps, atmosphere, and soil. As warmer temperatures increase the demand for water, the amount of freshwater available may decline and increase competition for water resources in some areas. The better we understand the ecosystems and environments that protect our essential water resources, the more effectively we can take steps to protect them.


The Watershed Sleuth Challenge

In this Watershed Sleuth Challenge, you will learn more about your watershed—what it is, why it’s important, and what you can do to help protect it.
Take the Challenge
Fighting egrets

Wetlands of the United States

Found on every continent save Antarctica, wetlands come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes—and hydrological, ecological and geological conditions!
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Long-billed Curlew foraging in a river estuary

America's Estuaries

Estuaries are found around the world, offering productive habitat to thousands of species of animals.
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Water Quality Activity Guide

Water Quality Backyard Activity Guide

Use this activity guide to explore the topic of water quality. It's perfect for your next environmental investigation!
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Water Quality

Do Your Part to Protect Water Quality

Give these tips a try to protect water quality where you live.
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Crop irrigation

The Increasing Demand and Decreasing Supply of Water

In many areas of the US, the demand for freshwater is likely to increase while supplies decrease due, in part, to a changing climate.
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Waterway estuary

Groundwater and the Rising Seas

Changes in precipitation and rising sea levels may reduce the availability of freshwater for coastal communities by saltwater infiltration.
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Aerial view of rocks and beach

Stirring up the Seven Seas

By riding the global ocean conveyor belt, seawater may have traveled the planet—and the seven seas—supporting the global food chain on its way.
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Sandbags on eroding east coast

Sea Level Rise

Global sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate, and climate change is likely to speed up the rate of sea level rise over the next century.
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Boats at Sea

A Warming Ocean

The average global sea surface temperature has increased about 1.5°F since 1901 impacting weather systems, migrations, and ocean circulation patterns.
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Algal bloom

Harmful Algal Blooms Blooming

Algal blooms impact water quality and have the potential to produce toxins that can harm humans, pets, and wildlife.
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Walruses on the beach

Marine Mammals on Ice

It’s a good time to take a look at the role ice plays in the larger Arctic ecosystem & how different marine mammals rely on this fluctuating resource.
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Pigeons and ducks at a river bank

Waterfowl and Water Quality

You may have noticed waterfowl (geese, ducks, and swans) taking up residence in local parks, neighborhoods, business areas, and even airports.
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Gray whale migration

A Whale of a Trip

Gray whales complete one of the longest annual migrations of any mammal.
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Sea urchin shells

Marine Life and Ocean Acidity

Increasing ocean acidity decreases the ability of shells and other calcium carbonate structures, such as coral skeletons, to form.
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Turtle swimming among coral

US Coral Reefs in a Warming Ocean

As the oceans around the US become warmer & more acidic due to greenhouse gas emissions, the health & survival of coral reef ecosystems are threatened
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Illustration of Atlantic Cod

Marine Species Responding to a Changing Climate

Life on land is closely linked to and dependent upon the health of the oceans, which provide an abundance of resources for humans.
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Bridge on the Delaware River

A River Ran Through It

Climate change impacts the quality and quantity of water in US rivers. Observed and projected changes variably affect regional water resources.
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