According to a recent study conducted on data provided by NASA, it seems that the Earth’s groundwater reserves might be in danger.
The study was performed by the University of California Irvine on the extensive data collected from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites.
The groundwater reserves, or aquifers, refer to the water that is localized underground, beneath rocks and soil. These reserves can be localized close to the surface and easily accessed or very deep underground and extensive technology is needed to reach them. Also, there are smaller groundwater reserves and there are massive ones that have the capacity to supply water to very many people.
This recent study suggests that out of the world’s 37 largest groundwater reserves, 13 are reaching alarmingly low rates and show little chance of being naturally refilled, if any. These findings are based on data that describes the state of the groundwater reserves from 2003 to 2013.
Furthermore, 8 these aquifers have been assessed as being “overstressed” and having almost no chance of ever being replaces naturally. 5 aquifers have been deemed as “extremely” or “highly” stressed, after their level of replenishment was studies in correlation with their current state and the progression seen these last years.
“We’re trying to raise red flags now to pinpoint where active management today could protect future lives and livelihoods.” said lead author on the study, Alexandra Richey.
She pointed out that people who depend on one of these aquifers find themselves in imminent danger, especially in the situation where there are political conflicts in the area that could prevent the supplementation of water supplies.
Therefore, she explained that it is of the utmost importance that further research be conducted on a very large scale, so that the exact level of the groundwater reserves is determined for the present date, so that alternative solutions can be introduced in endangered regions and so that a series of measures can be introduced to protect all of the aquifers in the future.
One of the most problematic groundwater reserves is the Arabian Aquifer System, as it has been assessed as the aquifer with the highest level of overstress. This underground water reserve provides water for more than 60 million people from countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria or the the United Arab Emirates.
Since the groundwater reserves amount to as much as 95% of the entire planet’s fresh water reserve, it is crucial for our future that we understand the state that they find themselves in at the moment, why and how the situation has gotten to this point and what we can do in the future in order to preserve them as best as we can.
Image Source: firespring.com