15 August 2012

Worldwide Water Crisis Looms

Written by Published in Nature

The summer of 2012 has been one of the hottest years on record and nothing beats the heat better than an icy cold glass of water. Someday soon, however, this simple pleasure may be harder to come by. Intense sun and sparse rainfall is causing a massive drought across the United States. The unprecedented heat wave is affecting fresh water supplies

Global impact

NASA reports that 97 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet melted over four days in July this year. Scientists were startled at the speed with which it melted. On July 8, about 40 percent of Greenland’s surface ice had melted. By July 12, about 97 percent was gone. Greenland experienced a series of strong warm ridges in 2012. The sudden melt-off occurred when one of these ridges parked over the ice sheet, creating a massive heat dome over the ice.

On the other side of the planet, scientists discovered a Grand Canyon size rift beneath the Antarctic ice. This mile-deep Ferrigno rift introduces warm seawater into the ice sheet, swiftly melting everything it touches.

Closer to home

Also in July of this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that 55 percent of the contiguous U.S. suffered moderate to extreme drought. These droughts are likely to intensify, stressing water levels in large swaths of the country.

The 2012 U.S. drought will reduce crop yields immediately and in the years to come. Agricultural irrigation systems rely on groundwater; high temperatures and a lack of rain depleted groundwater reserves for much of the United States. 

The drought will also cause collateral damage in the form of increased food prices, wildfires and loss of income from recreation and other industries. Power outages are likely, as plants rely on water to make electricity.

Water, water everywhere?

Water covers 70 to 75 percent of the earth’s surface but only 1 percent of all earth’s water is actually available for its 7 billion thirsty humans, countless plants and animals. Irrigation, industry and sanitation soak up much of that global water budget and spit it out as polluted waste, unfit for human consumption.

The continuing heat wave, compounded by an exploding global population and widespread industrial expansion, is sure to shrink the supply of potable water and increase the demand for clean, filtered water. Until scientists learn how to create water, each of earth’s residents must use this precious resource more efficiently if there is to be enough drinking water for everyone.

Tips for efficient water use - CLICK HERE

The same water that covered the earth a million years ago is still here today; modern man drinks the same water as Caesar or Napoleon. Drought evaporates this precious commodity, parching throats and land around the globe. Whilst it may not be possible for mankind to end the drought today, everyone can work together towards the promise of water tomorrow.

 

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