Tags: nasa | water | aquifer | depleting | world | supply

NASA: Water Supplies for Whole World Are Dwindling at a Rapid Rate

Image: NASA: Water Supplies for Whole World Are Dwindling at a Rapid Rate
(NASA via Getty Images, file)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 Jun 2015 03:38 PM

Two new NASA studies released on Tuesday show that fresh water supplies are rapidly depleting from several of the world’s largest underground aquifers in a problem that will only worsen as the globe's reliance upon them grows.

NASA, in conjunction with researchers from the University of California-Irvine, discovered via satellite data that 21 of the world’s 37 largest aquifers that span from India to China to the U.S. to France passed their sustainability tipping points, according to The Washington Post. This means that more water is being removed from the aquifers than is being replaced. Of the 21 aquifers affected, 13 of them have been placed in the “most troubled” category.

“The situation is quite critical,” said Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and principal investigator of the University of California Irvine-led studies, according to The Post.

Underground aquifers currently provide 35 percent of the water that humans use and consume worldwide, although poor and densely populated areas consume a far higher percentage of that water when alternative supply outlets are limited, The Post noted. Droughts also increase dependence upon underground aquifers.

According to Canada.com, these aquifer reserves require thousands of years to accumulate their water supplies and recharge very slowly with water from rain and snow falls. As drilling deeper for water has spread across the world, those aquifers have been put under increasing stress.

California is currently tapping aquifers to receive 60 percent of its water supply — higher than its previous 40-percent rate — due to a drought, Canada.com reported.

To make matters even more precarious, researchers cannot know for certain exactly how much water these aquifers are capable of storing.

“We don’t actually know how much is stored in each of these aquifers,” said Alexandra Richey, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) research project’s leading scientist, according to RT.com. “Estimates of remaining storage might vary from decades to millennia. In a water-scarce society, we can no longer tolerate this level of uncertainty, especially since groundwater is disappearing so rapidly.”

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Two new NASA studies released on Tuesday show that fresh water supplies are rapidly depleting from several of the world’s largest underground aquifers in a problem that will only worsen as the globe's reliance upon them grows.
nasa, water, aquifer, depleting, world, supply
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2015-38-17
Wednesday, 17 Jun 2015 03:38 PM
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