Global Groundwater Depletion Is Detected From Space

Climate Change Quote of the Day:

Look, water has been a resource that has been plentiful. But now we’ve got climate change, we’ve got population growth, we’ve got widespread groundwater contamination, we’ve got satellites showing us we are depleting some of this stuff…I think we’ve taken it for granted, and we are probably not able to do that any more.”

~ Dr. Jay Famiglietti, Director of the University of California’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling from where the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) is being conducted.

source: NASA

More links:

Groundwater Depletion Is Detected by Grace Satellites. NY Times

“Dowsing From the Sky”

0 thoughts on “Global Groundwater Depletion Is Detected From Space”

  1. Many years ago I recall reading in “Beautiful BC” magazine (put out by the provincial government) that B.C. received 10% of the world’s annual rainfall. If you live out this way, it sounds plausible.

    Much of it ends up in rivers which transport the water right back out to the ocean…some of it lands in the form of snow, and in many cases – the snow melt is where much of the domestic water supply comes from every year.

    The melting snow finds its’ way into reservoirs for just this purpose. Local governments both love and hate the snowfall. Love it for the continuing water supply during the summer, and hate it for needing to plow the roads in wintertime. It seems they can’t win.

    Now, that is all surface water, groundwater is rather another kettle of fish.

    On nearby Gabriola island, summertime groundwater levels have fallen to the point where the old wells, many of which were over 200′ deep, are failing toward the end of summer.

    • If the aquifers on the Gulf Islands are starting to deplete, that should be a warning bell for the rest of us, especially dry (but very agricultural) California.

  2. In countries as young as those of North America there is an inevitable tendency to take groundwater for granted. Aquifers, created over thousands of years, can be drained in just decades. Worse yet, we have become accustomed, even dependent on the continuation of that extraction for agricultural, industrial and municipal needs. We have never linked our extraction to actual recharge rates but, when you’re pumping water at 10X and the recharge is but 1X, the inevitable result is obvious.

    In North America we developed our breadbasket regions without understanding they were prone to megadrought and that the precipitation conditions we’ve enjoyed since we arrived were abnormal. Imagine what happens to southern Alberta and Saskatchewan if they cycle back into another 60-year megadrought.

    Before the Green Revolution, India faced persistent food shortages. That changed with the introduction of modern techniques of intensive irrigation and fertilization to the point that India became a food exporter. Now its main aquifers are distressed. This is compounded by the retreat of the Himalayan glacial headwaters and the erratic shifts in the monsoon.

    With global warming substantially more of our surface water is being depleted by evaporation, transformed into ever more water vapour that provides the fuel for storm events of increasing frequency and severity.

    • Once a person tugs on one string of the ecosystem, lo and behold they are all connected. It seems that’s the lesson humankind has to finally learn now, or become the first species to cause its own extinction.


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