A hazy plume drifted over the northern end of the Caspian Sea in early April 2008. The translucent plume swirling over the water contrasts with the nearby opaque white clouds. The plume might result partly from smoke from springtime agricultural fires in farmland north of the sea.
Dividing up water resources in southern California is always a controversial activity. Water allocations for the agriculture in the Imperial Valley, the Salton Sea, and the expanding urban and residential growth in San Diego County were in limbo until a recent agreement was drafted, allowing San Diego to buy conserved Colorado River water from the Imperial Valley. This astronaut photograph details an algal bloom in the Salton Sea, where such blooms continue to be a problem. They are caused by high concentrations of nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorous, that drain into the basin from the agricultural run-off. As the algae dies and decomposes, oxygen levels in the sea drop, causing fish kills and hazardous conditions for other wildlife.