Nasa sounds red alert on dip­ping ground­wa­ter

21 Of The World’s 37 Largest Aquifers Have Crossed Tip­ping Point; 13 In Most-Trou­bled Cat­e­gory

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TRENDS TIMES -

The world’s largest un­der­ground aquifers – a source of fresh wa­ter for hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple — are be­ing de­pleted at alarm­ing rates, ac­cord­ing to new NASA satel­lite data, that pro­vides the most de­tailed pic­ture yet of vi­tal wa­ter re­serves hid­den un­der the Earth’s sur­face.

Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers — from In­dia and China to the United States and France — have passed their sus­tain­abil­ity tip­ping points, mean­ing more wa­ter was re- moved than re­placed dur­ing the decade-long study pe­riod, re­searchers an­nounced on Tues­day. Thir­teen aquifers have been put into the most trou­bled cat­e­gory, sig­nal­ing a long-term prob­lem that’s likely to worsen as re­liance on aquifers grows.

The NASA data is the first de­tailed as­sess­ment which vin­di­cates sci­en­tists’ con­cern that ma­jor aquifers are in­deed strug­gling to keep pace with de­mands from agri­cul­ture, grow­ing pop­u­la­tions, and in­dus­tries.

“The sit­u­a­tion is quite crit­i­cal,” said Jay Famigli­etti, se­nior

North Korea has been hit by its worst drought in 100 years, the state-run news agency said on Tues­day, adding 30% of the paddy fields have dried up. This has sparked fears of food short­age in the coun­try wa­ter sci­en­tist at NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory in Cal­i­for­nia.

Un­der­ground aquifers sup­ply 35% of the wa­ter used by hu­mans world­wide and its de­mand in­creases in times of drought. Rain-starved Cal­i­for­nia is cur­rently tap­ping aquifers for 60% of its wa­ter use as its rivers and above-ground reser­voirs dry up, a steep in­crease from the usual 40%. The aquifers un­der the most stress are in poor, densely pop­u­lated re­gions, such as north-west In­dia, Pak­istan and North Africa, where al­ter­na­tives are lim­ited and wa­ter short­ages could quickly lead to in­sta­bil­ity.

The re­searchers used NASA’s GRACE satel­lites for the study, span­ning from 2003-2013, to take pre­cise mea­sure­ments. The satel­lites de­tected sub­tle changes in the Earth’s grav­i­ta­tional pull, not­ing where the heav­ier weight of wa­ter ex­erted a greater pull on the or­bit­ing space­craft.

The world’s most stressed aquifer — de­fined as suf­fer­ing rapid de­ple­tion with lit­tle or no sign of recharg­ing — was the Ara­bian Aquifer, a wa­ter source used by more than 60 mil­lion peo­ple.

AP

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