Scientists from The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have raised concerns over the water shortages being experienced globally, terming it, a key environmental challenge of the century.
In a recent report, NASA says, swaths of the globe are drying-out between the tropics and the high latitudes, and that freshwater supplies have severely declined due to overuse.
Identifying 19 global hotspots where water depletion has been dramatic, the report adversely mentions California-USA, Northern and Eastern India, Australia and the Middle East, as some of the areas where overuse of water resources has caused a serious decline in the availability of freshwater that is already a problem. The study further warns that without strong action by the governments to preserve water, the situation in these areas will worsen.
According to the study, groundwater depletion from industries and irrigation has led to dramatic declines in some regions giving an example of Xinjiang province, in China which has suffered despite receiving normal amounts of rainfall.
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With a shrinking shoreline, the Caspian Sea, located between Europe and Asia, is showing strong declines owing to similar forces with the new report showing diversion and extraction of water from rivers that feed it, for agriculture and industry. Some lakes in the region, such as Aral sea, have disappeared and NASA is warning that in about 1000 years, the same fate would befall the Caspian sea.
The comprehensive study, the first of its kind, took data from the Nasa Grace (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite mission to track trends in freshwater from 2002 to 2016 across the globe.
James Famiglietti, of the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California said that it is a major hydrologic change seen for the first time, a very distinctive pattern of the wet land areas of the world getting wetter, in the high latitudes and the tropics, and the dry areas in between getting drier
Jonathan Farr, senior policy analyst at the charity WaterAid, urged governments to take note of the findings and increase their role in preserving water resources and providing freshwater to people in a sustainable manner.
“This report is a warning and an insight into a future threat. We need to ensure that investment in water keeps pace with industrialization and farming. Governments need to get to grips with this,” he said, pointing to estimates that between US$30bn and US$100bn of investment was needed per year to provide freshwater where needed.