Government-subsidized electricity has played a big role in pumping out groundwater for irrigation at an unsustainable rate. Changing the system could help, say researchers.
groundwater depletion Archives - State of the Planet
Human-influenced climate warming has already reduced rainfall and increased evaporation in the Mideast, worsening water shortages. Up to now, climate scientists had projected that rainfall could decline another 20 percent by 2100. But the Dead Sea cores suggest that things could become much worse, much faster.
Some research suggests that, along with melting ice sheets and glaciers, the water pumped from underground for irrigation and other uses, on the rise worldwide, could contribute substantially to rising sea levels over the next 50 years. A new study published in Nature Climate Change says the magnitude is substantially lower.
The Growing Groundwater Crisis
Groundwater is being depleted at alarming rates, not only in drought-stricken California, but around the world. When groundwater is depleted, it can take tens to hundreds of years to for it to reestablish its sustainable level, if at all. What can be done to avert a water crisis?
Groundwater levels are dropping across a much wider swath of the United States than is generally discussed, according to a new report, suggesting that the nation’s long-term pattern of groundwater use is broadly unsustainable.
Watch a video about the Columbia Water Center’s project to address a looming water crisis in north Gujarat, India.
As seductive as it is, depleting non-renewable aquifers to grow food is fundamentally unsustainable for the long term, as Saudi Arabia and other nations are finding out. According to a recent article by Lester Brown, in the 1970s the world’s largest oil producer realized it could use oil-drilling technology to tap deep underwater aquifers and—amazingly,… read more
A fascinating and frightening recent study from the National Resources Defense Council unveiled serious threats to water sustainability in the United States over the coming decades. In an era of rapidly unfolding climate change, the Council’s research found that more than 1,100 counties, or one third of all counties in the lower 48 states, face… read more
In part 1 of this interview, I talked with Columbia Water Center hydroclimatologist Stefan Sobolowski about the effects of continental snowcover on climate, and the implications of his research on climate change. In part 2, we talk about the problem of uncertainty in climate prediction models, extreme weather events, the regional variation of climate change effects and improved precipitation forecasting for India and the world.
Today, a growing number of scientists argue that global peak oil may be upon us—an argument that would seem to be supported by the increasingly heroic measures oil companies are taking (such as the ultra-deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico) to keep up with global oil demand.
Many underground aquifers and even some surface water stored in lakes and glaciers can indeed be thought of as non-renewable—and thus subject to peak and decline–because they can be depleted faster than the natural recharge rate.