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Groundwater is disappearing

Photo credit: Nature World News

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. (Photo : Pixabay)

Earth’s Biggest Groundwater Basins Are in Trouble

A third of the Earth’s biggest groundwater basins are in trouble, because after significantly relying on this hidden resource for so long, they are being quickly tapped out, according to two new studies.

Groundwater comes from aquifers – sponge-like gravel and sand-filled underground reservoirs – that provide populations with freshwater to make up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers and reservoirs. With the ongoing drought in the western United States, particularly California, residents have been relying more heavily on groundwater for their water needs. And yet despite the fact that groundwater is disappearing, there is little to no accurate data about how much water remains in them – so we don’t know when we’ll run out.

“Available physical and chemical measurements are simply insufficient,” lead author Jay Famiglietti, from the University of California, Irvine (UCI), said in a news release. “Given how quickly we are consuming the world’s groundwater reserves, we need a coordinated global effort to determine how much is left.”

So for the first time, two new studies, led by researchers at UCI using data from NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites, aimed to find out. NASA’s twin GRACE satellites measure dips and bumps in Earth’s gravity, which is affected by the weight of water.

Read the full story: Nature World News

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.