A pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites has documented a precipitous drop in freshwater supplies in the arid Middle East over the past decade. NASA said that since 2003 parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran had lost 144 cubic kilometers of total stored freshwater, an amount roughly equivalent to the water in the Dead Sea. (more…)
Two environmental organizations are fighting a Canadian company’s plan to mine a massive reserve of oil sands in eastern Utah, saying the project would tax water supplies in what is already the U.S.’s second-driest state.
In what would be the U.S.’s first large-scale oil sands (more…)
The vast amounts of water pumped out of the ground for irrigation, drinking water, and industrial uses will increasingly contribute to global sea level rise in the coming decades, according to a new study.
According to researchers at Utrecht University, humans pumped about 204 cubic kilometers (49 (more…)
If natural gas is a “bridge fuel,” what’s on the other side?
This question kept popping up in recent weeks as a series of reports predicted gas would become a growing part of the global energy mix in the coming decades. Gas, while cleaner burning than coal, still falls short of the low-emissions scenarios envisioned by world leaders, (more…)
A burgeoning human population has doubled the rate at which it is pumping dry sources of groundwater in recent decades, according to a new study. Relying on a global database of groundwater use and demand, the researchers from Utrecht University calculated that the rate of withdrawal of groundwater stocks jumped from about 30 cubic miles annually (126 (more…)
The Earth is truly a blue planet; 70 percent of its surface is covered with water. Unfortunately 97.5 percent of that is salt water, unusable for humans. Fresh water accounts for the other 2.5 percent, however, about two thirds of that is locked up in glaciers and in the icy poles. That leaves humans (and every other living creature on land) only about one percent of all the water on Earth to use.
A pair of satellites that measures changes in the earth’s gravity has shown that the intense irrigation of a 1,200-mile swath of northern India is depleting groundwater at a rate of 1.5 to 4 inches per year.
The satellites, part of a joint U.S.-German mission known as GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), show that the region — inhabited by 600 million people heavily dependent on irrigated agriculture — is withdrawing 13 cubic miles of water per year from underground aquifers.
Reporting in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, U.S. and Indian scientists analyzed satellite data from 2002 to 2008 and concluded that Indian farmers are pumping out groundwater 70 percent faster than estimated by the Central Ground Water Board of India in the 1990s.