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The water table is dropping all over the world: NASA warns we’re on the path to global drought


Heretic

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This is what's really important, this year was the driest spring in a long time here in the Okanagan - grass and fields look like what they should look like at the end of summer, not the beginning...

lake_mead_drought_38493605.jpg?w=620
U.S., on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is building a three-mile (five-kilometer), $817 million tunnel under Lake Mead to retain access to its Colorado River supply as the reservoir declines to 40 percent of capacity. Photographer: David Paul Morris/BloombergCracked ground along the shore of Lake Mead is seen in Boulder City, Nevada, another symptom of drought research shows is becoming a global problem.

WASHINGTON — Drought-stricken California is not the only place draining underground aquifers in the hunt for fresh water.

It’s happening across the world, according to two new studies by U.S. researchers released Tuesday.


Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers — in locations from India and China to the United States and France — have passed their sustainability tipping points, meaning more water is being removed than replaced from these vital underground reservoirs. Thirteen of 37 aquifers fell at rates that put them into the most troubled category.

“The situation is quite critical,” said Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the studies’ principal investigator.

texas_drought_aquifer_storage_38474169.j
San Antonio Water System/Associated PressThis photo provided by the San Antonio Water System shows the Twin Oaks Aquifer Storage and Recovery site in far south Bexar County, Texas. Aquifers like this around the world are running dry.

And it’s difficult to see it getting better soon. These groundwater reserves take thousands of years to accumulate and only slowly recharge with water from snowmelt and rains. Now, as drilling for water has taken off across the globe, the hidden water reservoirs are being stressed. Underground aquifers supply 35 percent of the water used by humans worldwide. Demand is even greater in times of drought. Rain-starved California is currently tapping aquifers for 60 percent of its water use, up from the usual 40 percent.

468519334_37302933.jpg?w=620&h=465
Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 03: Dry cracked earth is visible on the dry Guadalupe Creek on April 3, 2015 in San Jose, California. The state is now in its fourth year of drought.

In another finding from the studies led by the University of California Irvine, scientists say that some of these aquifers may be much smaller than previously thought. Only a few of the aquifers have been mapped in detail and most estimates of aquifer water reserves have “uncertainty ranges across orders of magnitude,” according to the studies.

The new studies used NASA’s GRACE satellites to take unprecedentedly precise measurements of the groundwater reservoirs hidden beneath the ground. The satellites detected subtle changes in the gravitational pull of the earth’s surface. Water is exceptionally heavy and exerts a greater pull on orbiting spacecraft. As the satellites flew overhead, slight changes in aquifer water levels were charted over a decade, from 2003 to 2013.

“The water table is dropping all over the world,” Familglietti said. “There’s not an infinite supply of water.”

australia.png?w=620&h=465
WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty ImagesAustralia's is also suffering from drought.

In Australia, the Canning Basin in the country’s western end had the third-highest rate of depletion in the world. But the Great Artesian Basin to the east was among the healthiest.

The difference, the studies found, is likely attributable to heavy mining near the Canning Basin. Mining is a water-intensive activity.

drought2.jpg?w=620&h=465
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, FileIrrigation water runs along the dried-up ditch between the rice farms to provide water for the rice fields on Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Richvale, Calif.

In the United States, California’s Central Valley Aquifer was in the most trouble. It is being drained to irrigate farm fields. California only last year passed its first extensive groundwater regulations, allowing for local control over groundwater. But the new law could take two decades to take effect.

Also running a negative balance was the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains Aquifer, which stretches across the Gulf Coast and Florida. But three other aquifers in the middle of the country appeared to be in relatively good shape.

The studies were published Tuesday in the Water Resources Research journal.

Familglietti said he hoped the findings would spur discussion and further research into how much groundwater is left.

“We need to get our heads together on how we manage groundwater,” he said, “because we’re running out of it.”

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This is what's really important, this year was the driest spring in a long time here in the Okanagan - grass and fields look like what they should look like at the end of summer, not the beginning...

lake_mead_drought_38493605.jpg?w=620
U.S., on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is building a three-mile (five-kilometer), $817 million tunnel under Lake Mead to retain access to its Colorado River supply as the reservoir declines to 40 percent of capacity. Photographer: David Paul Morris/BloombergCracked ground along the shore of Lake Mead is seen in Boulder City, Nevada, another symptom of drought research shows is becoming a global problem.

WASHINGTON — Drought-stricken California is not the only place draining underground aquifers in the hunt for fresh water.

It’s happening across the world, according to two new studies by U.S. researchers released Tuesday.

Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers — in locations from India and China to the United States and France — have passed their sustainability tipping points, meaning more water is being removed than replaced from these vital underground reservoirs. Thirteen of 37 aquifers fell at rates that put them into the most troubled category.

“The situation is quite critical,” said Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the studies’ principal investigator.

texas_drought_aquifer_storage_38474169.j
San Antonio Water System/Associated PressThis photo provided by the San Antonio Water System shows the Twin Oaks Aquifer Storage and Recovery site in far south Bexar County, Texas. Aquifers like this around the world are running dry.

And it’s difficult to see it getting better soon. These groundwater reserves take thousands of years to accumulate and only slowly recharge with water from snowmelt and rains. Now, as drilling for water has taken off across the globe, the hidden water reservoirs are being stressed. Underground aquifers supply 35 percent of the water used by humans worldwide. Demand is even greater in times of drought. Rain-starved California is currently tapping aquifers for 60 percent of its water use, up from the usual 40 percent.

468519334_37302933.jpg?w=620&h=465
Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 03: Dry cracked earth is visible on the dry Guadalupe Creek on April 3, 2015 in San Jose, California. The state is now in its fourth year of drought.

In another finding from the studies led by the University of California Irvine, scientists say that some of these aquifers may be much smaller than previously thought. Only a few of the aquifers have been mapped in detail and most estimates of aquifer water reserves have “uncertainty ranges across orders of magnitude,” according to the studies.

The new studies used NASA’s GRACE satellites to take unprecedentedly precise measurements of the groundwater reservoirs hidden beneath the ground. The satellites detected subtle changes in the gravitational pull of the earth’s surface. Water is exceptionally heavy and exerts a greater pull on orbiting spacecraft. As the satellites flew overhead, slight changes in aquifer water levels were charted over a decade, from 2003 to 2013.

“The water table is dropping all over the world,” Familglietti said. “There’s not an infinite supply of water.”

australia.png?w=620&h=465
WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty ImagesAustralia's is also suffering from drought.

In Australia, the Canning Basin in the country’s western end had the third-highest rate of depletion in the world. But the Great Artesian Basin to the east was among the healthiest.

The difference, the studies found, is likely attributable to heavy mining near the Canning Basin. Mining is a water-intensive activity.

drought2.jpg?w=620&h=465
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, FileIrrigation water runs along the dried-up ditch between the rice farms to provide water for the rice fields on Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Richvale, Calif.

In the United States, California’s Central Valley Aquifer was in the most trouble. It is being drained to irrigate farm fields. California only last year passed its first extensive groundwater regulations, allowing for local control over groundwater. But the new law could take two decades to take effect.

Also running a negative balance was the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains Aquifer, which stretches across the Gulf Coast and Florida. But three other aquifers in the middle of the country appeared to be in relatively good shape.

The studies were published Tuesday in the Water Resources Research journal.

Familglietti said he hoped the findings would spur discussion and further research into how much groundwater is left.

“We need to get our heads together on how we manage groundwater,” he said, “because we’re running out of it.”

We should start collecting water from the melting ice caps & glaciers....get a couple drip buckets under them, problem solved. ;)

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We should start collecting water from the melting ice caps & glaciers....get a couple drip buckets under them, problem solved. ;)

How would that change anything? The water table is replenished by the melting ice caps and glaciers, so all that would do is leave the problem as it is - global drought just moments away.

If people don't start smartening up soon, all those movies that revolve around "culling the human race" is going to very accurate because this planet cannot sustain us 7 billion people with the way we treat it.

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How would that change anything? The water table is replenished by the melting ice caps and glaciers, so all that would do is leave the problem as it is - global drought just moments away.

If people don't start smartening up soon, all those movies that revolve around "culling the human race" is going to very accurate because this planet cannot sustain us 7 billion people with the way we treat it.

You didn't really take my idea seriously, did you?

Apparently I need to brush up on my sarcasm skills.

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How would that change anything? The water table is replenished by the melting ice caps and glaciers, so all that would do is leave the problem as it is - global drought just moments away.

If people don't start smartening up soon, all those movies that revolve around "culling the human race" is going to very accurate because this planet cannot sustain us 7 billion people with the way we treat it.

Yeah was I the only one cheering for Samuel L Jackson in The Kingsman?

Unfortunately this is the BS we have to deal with

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEFL8ElXHaU

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You didn't really take my idea seriously, did you?

Apparently I need to brush up on my sarcasm skills.

It's true though, the only way we're going to survive is drop the birthrate, the only problem is BS politicians spoon feed you about saving pensions and having to import people to keep the birthrate up. Whole lot of lies.

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It's true though, the only way we're going to survive is drop the birthrate, the only problem is BS politicians spoon feed you about saving pensions and having to import people to keep the birthrate up. Whole lot of lies.

I'm looking forward to what renewable energy can do for humanities woes...I hear tell Germany is at 30% net power generation from renewable sources in 2014, that's pretty remarkable.

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Stop buying bottle water. IE Nestle.

As individuals and even as a race we're not in great shape to change much. The earth is gearing up for an Ice Age. Harpers oil barons nor the noble warriors of Greenpeace can do much. I hope that the UNMUZZLED scientists can find a way. All we can do is watch and learn.

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Stop buying bottle water. IE Nestle.

As individuals and even as a race we're not in great shape to change much. The earth is gearing up for an Ice Age. Harpers oil barons nor the noble warriors of Greenpeace can do much. I hope that the UNMUZZLED scientists can find a way. All we can do is watch and learn.

I never buy Nestle water. Fiji water or a slow painful death thank you very much.

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Meanwhile on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, there is no legislation on water. So you can dig a 1000 ft well. Siphon all off the water table then sell it to everyone else.

But the BC Government doesn't want to make legislation for that.

Hi Harper Gov't. Waves.

Hi Clark!

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