Groundwater Map Highlights Possible Water Shortage

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December 6, 2015

A newly published map shows the various locations of the planet’s groundwater, including its age. The map also comes with a warning about future water shortage.

According to the National Ground Water Association, groundwater gives Earth its second-largest amount of freshwater. (First in that category is glaciers and ice caps.)

The research that produced the new map calculated that Earth had 5.5 million cubic miles of groundwater.

The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, differentiated between “young” and “old” groundwater, with “young” groundwater being less than 100 years old and found at lesser depths.

The study found concentrations of arscenic or uranium in “old” groundwater and, by and large, had more salt content than ocean water. Further, the authors of the study asserted, such old groundwater wasn’t of much use for consumption by humans or animals.

“Young” groundwater, by comparison, is part of the active water cycle and is renewed and refreshed by rainfall or snowmelt. The study referenced gradually warmer temperatures as affecting existing water levels in that existing reservoirs and aquifers were observed to be not refilling as quickly as in past years. The study also found growing levels of pollution in groundwater closer to the surface.

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