Before (Year 2000); After (Year
NASA Study of Increasingly Dire Global Water Shortages Finds Clear
Article by Julia Conley, Common Dreams, May 17, 2018
PHOTO: The Aral Sea, seen in a NASA satellite image, in year
2000 on the left versus 2017 on the right. (Modis/Terra/NASA)
With a first-of-its-kind satellite study, NASA scientists have
identified more than 30 parts of the globe where the depletion of
freshwater has been most dramatic, largely due to human activity
and the climate crisis.
Parts of India, the Middle East, Australia, the Arctic,
Antarctica, and California were among the places pointed out in the
new study, published in Nature on Wednesday, as areas where an
overuse of groundwater resources from irrigation, agricultural, and
industry projects, as well as the loss of glaciers and ice sheets,
have led to water shortages.
NASA has identified more than 30 hotspots where freshwater is in
The findings showed a clear human fingerprint on the drying out
of the earth, the authors of the report told the Guardian.
Aside from the warming planets effect on rapidly melting polar
ice, the extraction of water from rivers like those that feed into
the Aral Sea in Central Asia, for the purposes of farming and
industrial use, have resulted in dramatic losses of freshwater.
Over-extraction has been especially problematic in parts of
India and China, according to the study, causing a rapid decline in
the availability of water despite normal rainfall levels.
The fact that extractions already exceed recharge during normal
precipitation does not bode well for the availability of
groundwater during future droughts, wrote the studys authors.
This report is a warning and an insight into a future threat,
Jonathan Farr of the charity WaterAid told The Guardian. We need to
ensure that investment in water keeps pace with industrialization
and farming. Governments need to get to grips with this.
The worst-affected regions were uninhabited parts of the globe
like Antarctica where 10 percent of the icy continents glaciers are
now in retreat, according to a study published last month.