Scientists from NASA have revealed new data on our planet’s water, and it doesn’t look good at all. Parts in northern and eastern India, California, Australia, and the Middle East have trouble with hotspots, where freshwater has massively declined. If governments don’t take action, the areas will get worse.
In a Xinjiang province of China, even though there was a normal amount of rainfall, the ground was depleted because of the irrigation and industry.
The Caspian Sea’s shoreline has also increased. Scientists previously thought that it was a natural phenomenon and it varied, but the NASA report shows that extraction of water from rivers for agriculture and industry massively impacted the sea’s level.
The same happened to the Aral Sea, which is now completely gone. However, the Caspian Sea is far bigger, and it will disappear in millennia. Nonetheless, with the shoreline shrinking, the lands around will be affected as well.
NASA GRACE – Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Satellite Mission
The satellite from NASA that studies freshwater on Earth started to gather data from 2002 until 2016.
James Famiglietti (Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California) is the co-author of the study, and he explains what they saw in GRACE’s data:
“What we are witnessing is major hydrologic change. We see for the first time a very distinctive pattern of the wet land areas of the world getting wetter, in the high latitudes and the tropics, and the dry areas in between getting drier. Within the dry areas we see multiple hotspots resulting from groundwater depletion.”
Climate scientists have predicted this issue. Even the authors of the paper know that we are causing the depletion of freshwater. Their results showed that the global water cycle had a “clear human fingerprint.”
Extraction of Groundwater For Industry and Farming
The authors added that groundwater suffers because “extractions already exceed recharge during normal precipitation.”
Over the last three decades, Turkey has constructed 22 dams on Tigris and Euphrates rivers, creating the biggest hotspot identified by GRACE.
Jonathan Farr is a senior policy analyst at the charity WaterAid. He urges governments to regulate industry and farming:
“We need to ensure that investment in water keeps pace with industrialisation and farming. Governments need to get to grips with this. We have been solving the problem of getting access to water resources since civilisation began. We know how to do it.”
In conclusion, we have to improve the management of the access to water at a local level, adds Farr.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.